/page/2

Well, it’s about time.

This Saturday I will, hopefully, gracefully glide across the commencement stage and receive recognition for completing a great deal of work and study in the field of public relations & communications.

Because the date is gleefully looming above my head I am beginning to become sentimental & mushy in regard to my time spent with Oklahoma State University. 

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, if you continue reading you will have the opportunity to visualize a bit of my college career as I attempt to paint you a somewhat detailed picture of specific defining moments. Married with this, you might also be able to see a little bit into my heart.

Shall we begin with the beginning?

The Memory of Water

Freshman year, oh my dear heavens. Nervous, excited, homesick and determined I walked onto Oklahoma State University’s campus with the intention of figuring out this whole life thing. Normally, freshman year is consumed with social outings and the beginning processes of group attachment and self-identity— however, I do not believe I was destined to do anything remotely normal.

Throughout high school I had participated in theatre & had fallen in love with a life on the stage. Although set on a degree in journalism & broadcasting along with public relations, my feet had followed my heart & I soon found myself standing in front of a call board. Auditions were the next day.

Immediately, I signed my name with my signature smiley face & raced home to scrounge for two contrasting monologues. Thankfully, I was able to manage to piece an audition together & the next day I was sitting patiently in a green room surrounded by people who would soon become my dearest friends. 

As an eighteen-year-old, freshman, non-theatre major, I honestly did not expect anything to come from this particular audition, but I was gratefully & humbly surprised. 

This audition shaped my entire college career.

A few callbacks later, I found my name at the top of a cast list as a lead in a six-person play directed by Matthew Tomlanovich. Literally leaping out of joy, I promptly called each person in my family along with a few of my dear friends. 

Mary would be my first character to play on one of OSU’s stages & she was one of the most challenging, memorable & rewarding. The play was rated “R,” & included cursing, drinking, smoking fake illegal substances and undressing on stage—but it was one of the most beautifully & well-written scripts I had ever read. 

This was the first of many challenges in my college career.

I had to stand firm in my young convictions & refuse to say unladylike words and participate in indecent exposure. Terrified with the possibility of being cut from the show, I awaited the decision of Matt and the head of the department.

This was the first of many answered prayers.

My concerns were justified & my alternative actions were approved. My heart was elated. I knew this was where I was meant to be & an overwhelming peace consumed my entire being. 

From that moment on, I was able to work with an incredibly beautiful and talented cast & crew: Matthew Tomlanovich, Charlet Ringwald, Liz Tabish, Anthony Hill, Dalaina Chester, Brendan Stallings & Katelyn Andersen. As the baby of the cast, I learned from everything this cast and the director taught me. Each moment during rehearsal was a new experience and I absorbed any bit of knowledge & wisdom that was graciously passed along. I fell in love with these people & I am still in love with them, they each hold an incredibly important place in my heart & I respect each of them more than they will ever know.

But, what about college? What about classes?

Yes, I was enrolled in 16 hours & was balancing a full schedule along with the pledging process for Sigma Phi Lambda, all while attempting to construct some sort of on-campus friend network (the majority of the cast was on the verge of graduation & an impending exodus from the college town). 

A typical day for me during my first semester of college looked similar to this: Each morning I would wake up and ready myself for the day, jogging across campus to arrive early to my 8:30 a.m. college algebra course. Throughout the day I would travel from course to course, attempting to catch a quick nap on campus. After classes concluded for the day it would be around dinner time & I would dart to either “The Little Bakery” or “Twenty Something” for a quick on-the-go meal as I swiftly made my way across campus toward the theatre. From this moment, I would spend my evening on a stage until 10 to 10:30 p.m. & would cautiously jog back to the other side of campus to return to my dorm. From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. I would study and complete homework, then I would take a two to three hour nap and wake up early to study and prepare for the following day. 

Needless to say, this was not a normal schedule & I could not have been more thrilled.

This first semester was monumentally formative in my college development & I have “The Memory of Water” to thank. “The Memory of Water” gave me the opportunity to continue to practice my passion & dream, while forming relationships that would encourage & inspire my personal development.

Although I did not have necessarily a “normal” freshman year, I would not have exchanged it for anything else in the world.

It was a sunny afternoon in Colorado and after bathing in the warm light from the top of Reggie, my temporary RV home at the time, I climbed into the cabin slinging my camera around my neck with the intention of capturing the sunset as it nestled behind the Rocky Mountain skyline.  
Chasing the light, I walked near the front porch of the RV community center, and as my eyes locked on the picture ahead I could feel a gaze locking in on me.  Distracted, I pulled my focus away from the surroundings and directed it toward an older man sitting quietly on a porch swing.  Inclined to sit down, I was greeted kindly.  Small talk followed, a simple banter between two strangers, when suddenly the man’s eyes opened widely as he began to dive into a deeper story.  Before my eyes our casual conversation turned into a platform for which this man could tell his personal story and confide his opinions and feelings within a complete stranger.
As he spoke, the tonality in his speech was passionately heightened with his new found podium.  He continued to share his story as the light quickly hid away behind the mountains, this conversation lasting for more than an hour and ending with,
"Well, this has been nice.  No one ever listens to me."
Oh dear heavens, what an emotionally impacting statement.  
Each person has been designed with a desire to reach out, build relationships and be heard.  Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of this.  Both my parents possess a listeners ear, and I have grown up watching their personalities attract people who search for a way to tell their story.  This past summer this observation had been reinforced.
Opening myself up to people and conversations that led to personal and emotional confessions, troubles and praises challenged me to become an active and eager listener who would treasure a person’s story.
How many times a day do we bypass opportunities to connect with each other and provide support for each other?  It can be as simple as listening and genuinely caring about a person’s life and story.  
Just listening.
It does not require much on our part, except for an eager and patient ear, and it will open your head and heart to a world filled with unique people who possess beautiful stories that have the potential to impact your life.
People want to be heard. People want to tell a story and build a relationship.  
My encouragement to any one who may be reading this is to recognize those who are seeking this vocal release and allow yourself to actively listen to the voices that have been lost in the everyday noise that bombards us along our hopefully joyful journeys.

It was a sunny afternoon in Colorado and after bathing in the warm light from the top of Reggie, my temporary RV home at the time, I climbed into the cabin slinging my camera around my neck with the intention of capturing the sunset as it nestled behind the Rocky Mountain skyline.  

Chasing the light, I walked near the front porch of the RV community center, and as my eyes locked on the picture ahead I could feel a gaze locking in on me.  Distracted, I pulled my focus away from the surroundings and directed it toward an older man sitting quietly on a porch swing.  Inclined to sit down, I was greeted kindly.  Small talk followed, a simple banter between two strangers, when suddenly the man’s eyes opened widely as he began to dive into a deeper story.  Before my eyes our casual conversation turned into a platform for which this man could tell his personal story and confide his opinions and feelings within a complete stranger.

As he spoke, the tonality in his speech was passionately heightened with his new found podium.  He continued to share his story as the light quickly hid away behind the mountains, this conversation lasting for more than an hour and ending with,

"Well, this has been nice.  No one ever listens to me."

Oh dear heavens, what an emotionally impacting statement.  

Each person has been designed with a desire to reach out, build relationships and be heard.  Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of this.  Both my parents possess a listeners ear, and I have grown up watching their personalities attract people who search for a way to tell their story.  This past summer this observation had been reinforced.

Opening myself up to people and conversations that led to personal and emotional confessions, troubles and praises challenged me to become an active and eager listener who would treasure a person’s story.

How many times a day do we bypass opportunities to connect with each other and provide support for each other?  It can be as simple as listening and genuinely caring about a person’s life and story.  

Just listening.

It does not require much on our part, except for an eager and patient ear, and it will open your head and heart to a world filled with unique people who possess beautiful stories that have the potential to impact your life.

People want to be heard. People want to tell a story and build a relationship.  

My encouragement to any one who may be reading this is to recognize those who are seeking this vocal release and allow yourself to actively listen to the voices that have been lost in the everyday noise that bombards us along our hopefully joyful journeys.

Hi.
My name is Elyse, and I am restless.
If you have spent time with me you may have an understanding of my responsible, quiet and work-minded nature.
But, if you have spent a pretty large sum of time with me you may have discovered my tendency toward restlessness. 
For example, the past week has been monumental in comparison to the last few months.  You see, this is the first time since the beginning of June that I have stayed in the same city for more than seven days.
And yes, I have been off tour for a couple months, and I do live in a place with a foundation instead of wheels.
Obviously, this fact has not influenced a desire to become still.
If you walk into my current residence, the first thing you will notice is a pair of suitcases, mismatched and zipped tightly.  What you do not see is the material within each suitcase that provides the essentials for a weekend excursion or midweek trip.  You also don’t see the backup suitcase tucked away in my bedroom closet.
For some reason the idea of being able to live out of a suitcase is oddly appealing to me.  Knowing that at any moment I can be well on my way toward an adventure or change of pace is exhilarating and fulfilling.  I blame being restless.
Now, please do not mistake me, I adore home, and I treasure my time spent at home.  The majority of my afternoon drives, do in fact, lead me to my family’s front door.  Also, this restless spirit does not characterize a state of being unreliable.  Personally, rather than restlessness being deemed negative, it has evolved into a positive.
Lately I have been discovering the importance of being restless and the advantage it may ensue.
Because of this nature, life is always moving, always searching for ways to be challenged and propelled forward— constantly working toward bettering oneself and opening up to opportunities that could potentially improve an individual personally and professionally.
Restlessness is by no means a method of running away and a tactic for avoidance, yet it is meeting the moment and chasing after a dream.
So, I am at peace with being restless…
…what a contrary statement : )
This peace has established a base of encouragement as I begin to embark on the next big adventure in deciding what to explore in the upcoming stage of life as a young professional.  Lord only knows where/what that will be, but I refuse to settle and promise to be restless in my search.
I would joyfully welcome the opportunity for you to join me in my restless adventure.  Open to opportunity and eager to explore, I can only hope that my journey will continue toward “sky’s the limit,” “reach for the stars” and “dream big” ideals. 

Hi.

My name is Elyse, and I am restless.

If you have spent time with me you may have an understanding of my responsible, quiet and work-minded nature.

But, if you have spent a pretty large sum of time with me you may have discovered my tendency toward restlessness. 

For example, the past week has been monumental in comparison to the last few months.  You see, this is the first time since the beginning of June that I have stayed in the same city for more than seven days.

And yes, I have been off tour for a couple months, and I do live in a place with a foundation instead of wheels.

Obviously, this fact has not influenced a desire to become still.

If you walk into my current residence, the first thing you will notice is a pair of suitcases, mismatched and zipped tightly.  What you do not see is the material within each suitcase that provides the essentials for a weekend excursion or midweek trip.  You also don’t see the backup suitcase tucked away in my bedroom closet.

For some reason the idea of being able to live out of a suitcase is oddly appealing to me.  Knowing that at any moment I can be well on my way toward an adventure or change of pace is exhilarating and fulfilling.  I blame being restless.

Now, please do not mistake me, I adore home, and I treasure my time spent at home.  The majority of my afternoon drives, do in fact, lead me to my family’s front door.  Also, this restless spirit does not characterize a state of being unreliable.  Personally, rather than restlessness being deemed negative, it has evolved into a positive.

Lately I have been discovering the importance of being restless and the advantage it may ensue.

Because of this nature, life is always moving, always searching for ways to be challenged and propelled forward— constantly working toward bettering oneself and opening up to opportunities that could potentially improve an individual personally and professionally.

Restlessness is by no means a method of running away and a tactic for avoidance, yet it is meeting the moment and chasing after a dream.

So, I am at peace with being restless…

…what a contrary statement : )

This peace has established a base of encouragement as I begin to embark on the next big adventure in deciding what to explore in the upcoming stage of life as a young professional.  Lord only knows where/what that will be, but I refuse to settle and promise to be restless in my search.

I would joyfully welcome the opportunity for you to join me in my restless adventure.  Open to opportunity and eager to explore, I can only hope that my journey will continue toward “sky’s the limit,” “reach for the stars” and “dream big” ideals. 

*The video above is an example of a family road trip. This particular one was to California three or four years ago. Mason has now learned to simply join in on the fun, or bring a better set of headphones. 

Bedtime/Good Morning Story Time.

A month or so ago a large portion of my extended family adventured to the state with the not-so exciting nickname, The Volunteer State.  The nickname is appropriate considering the hub of non-profits seems to be chilling in one of its major cities, but beside the point.  Family vacation was underway.  Tennessee bound.

If you have ever spent time with my family you surely know how rambunctious we have a tendency to be, well, excluding the husbands of the daughters, they attempt to keep it calm.  With this rambunctious and feisty nature in mind, allow me to jump into story time.

Mini-vacationers:

Aunt Gee: The fearless driver.

Little Michael: The future attorney.

JoJo: The little princess.

Ma: The feisty matriarch.

Jeff: The manly man.

Jane: The night owl.

Elyse: The professional traveler.

Emily: The Selena fan.

Elizabeth: The glorified babysitter.

Allan Cole: The brave soul.

Piled into a recreational vehicle repair and rental waiting room patiently wait a rally of Riddles, Millers, Elkins’ and Allan Cole.  Each individual thumbing his or her fingers with eyes glued to a ticking clock.

Why on this beautiful earth would this bunch decide to spend time in a waiting room adorned with mounted animals and a rather intrusive statue of a cowboy?  Well, it all began one summer morning. 

It was a sweltering 110-degree, July day as the troop began to prepare for a mini-vacation to Nashville, Tennessee.  Because of the sheer number of mini-vacationers, a recreational vehicle was rented to ensure comfortable and convenient travels.

With an agenda set, they were ready to be on their merry way.  However, this family is particularly known for being flexible and bending time.

Let’s start at the Elkinido household.  The RV pulled down the tree-lined street as a family of four women and Jeff topple into the vehicle tossing in suitcases, woobies and gluten-free snacks.  Ready to go, the fearless driver decided to give the home on wheels a once over before the final departure.  To her dismay and horror she discovered the generator was malfunctioning.

The thought of driving nine hours with zero air-conditioning through 100-degree temperatures was unbearable, and so she was off to the RV repair and rental store.

To save time, part of the crew traveled a bit to pick up the matriarch of the family and tend to the four precious puppies they had to leave behind.  Once back in civilization, they traveled quite away to reach the rest of the clan.

From here, our story is halted for a few hours due to a trip to the RV doctor. 

Turns out, the problem could not be solved.

The final solution: drive one mini-van and one suburban to Nashville. 

Hurriedly, each person dives into the RV to unpack their belongings and move them into the appropriate vehicle.  All the while, the matriarch of this family was giving the RV people a piece of her mind.

Dripping in sweat and red in the face, it was time to leave. 

But wait. One more stop, back to our fearless driver’s home to unload perishable and unnecessary items.  Then back on the road.

To conclude this tale and transition from the abrupt ending, the humor of this story may be found in the fact that this family set their own agenda as the day progressed, and that after five hours of being on the road they ended up only five minutes away from their front door.

Don’t worry. They eventually made it to Nashville, only after stopping at each gas station along to way to pick up scratch cards, snacks and sodas.

And they all traveled happily ever after.

The end.

Fried okra.
Methodically and carefully prepared by a man with a gentle spirit and strong hands.  One week ago, all that consumed my mind was fried okra.
As a little girl, I remember running through the old, wooden house with the crooked stairs and the front yard filled with no less than 13 dogs.  I remember each nook and cranny, each hidden room, each brass figurine and each step it took to reach the tip top of the house.
Dinnertime has always been an event in our extended family, and in preparation for dinner my Papa would create flavorful fried okra.  Before the splendid appetizer could reach the table, I would have eaten half of the batch and begun begging for more.  I had always desired to learn how to cook fried okra the way my Papa cooked fried okra, so as he worked he had a set of eager hazel eyes watching over his every move.  I would gaze as he carefully poured water over the vegetable, as he precisely cut it into perfect pieces and as he masterfully added the exact amount of oil and spices.  He always knew what to do.  He never followed a recipe.  He just knew.
As I held my gaze steady on this process, my eyes seemed to always fall toward his hands.  I remember the tanned skin, the calloused fingers and the many scars.  I remember that no matter how rough the hands were, I knew that they were gentle.  I knew they belonged to a wise, quiet man.  My Papa.
These hands have traveled the world.  These hands have piloted planes.  These hands have drawn oil from the ground.  These hands have written pages of poetry.  These hands have graded hundreds of papers.  These hands have held the love of his life.  These hands have guided four children.  These hands have encouraged eleven grandchildren toward excellence.  These hands picked wildflowers.  These hands gave to those in need.  These hands made what was broken, fixed brand new.  These hands worked each day to ensure that a better life was made for those whose voice was lost.  These hands made a difference.  
Last week I held these hands, they were bandaged and swollen, but all I saw were the strong, gentle hands of my Papa that served me and helped guide me throughout my life.  
“I would rather be a whisper in the wind than a trumpet fanfare and the sound of drums, a subtle presence that makes a difference, unnoticed and thought to be just because it was,” Dr. William T. Riddle.

Fried okra.

Methodically and carefully prepared by a man with a gentle spirit and strong hands.  One week ago, all that consumed my mind was fried okra.

As a little girl, I remember running through the old, wooden house with the crooked stairs and the front yard filled with no less than 13 dogs.  I remember each nook and cranny, each hidden room, each brass figurine and each step it took to reach the tip top of the house.

Dinnertime has always been an event in our extended family, and in preparation for dinner my Papa would create flavorful fried okra.  Before the splendid appetizer could reach the table, I would have eaten half of the batch and begun begging for more.  I had always desired to learn how to cook fried okra the way my Papa cooked fried okra, so as he worked he had a set of eager hazel eyes watching over his every move.  I would gaze as he carefully poured water over the vegetable, as he precisely cut it into perfect pieces and as he masterfully added the exact amount of oil and spices.  He always knew what to do.  He never followed a recipe.  He just knew.

As I held my gaze steady on this process, my eyes seemed to always fall toward his hands.  I remember the tanned skin, the calloused fingers and the many scars.  I remember that no matter how rough the hands were, I knew that they were gentle.  I knew they belonged to a wise, quiet man.  My Papa.

These hands have traveled the world.  These hands have piloted planes.  These hands have drawn oil from the ground.  These hands have written pages of poetry.  These hands have graded hundreds of papers.  These hands have held the love of his life.  These hands have guided four children.  These hands have encouraged eleven grandchildren toward excellence.  These hands picked wildflowers.  These hands gave to those in need.  These hands made what was broken, fixed brand new.  These hands worked each day to ensure that a better life was made for those whose voice was lost.  These hands made a difference. 

Last week I held these hands, they were bandaged and swollen, but all I saw were the strong, gentle hands of my Papa that served me and helped guide me throughout my life. 

“I would rather be a whisper in the wind than a trumpet fanfare and the sound of drums, a subtle presence that makes a difference, unnoticed and thought to be just because it was,” Dr. William T. Riddle.

Life on the road.
Always changing, always moving.
I have fallen in love with this gypsy-esque life style. Being surrounded by ever-changing scenery is not only pleasant to the sight, but also invigorating for the soul.  If I could spend all my days traveling, adventuring and building relationships with beautiful people with splendid stories I believe I would leap at the opportunity to do so.
However, life on the road, as alluring as it may seem, does in fact have moments where you feel like you are not where you are meant to be.  
Taken from the wise Pumbaa, “Home is where your rump rests.”  
Lately, I would have to be contrary to this statement.  
Last week I received news that my PaPa had been in an explosive accident while working with oilrigs.  When this news reached my ears, I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of misplacement.  I needed to be home.  Home was no longer on board Reggie, it was with my family miles and miles away.
It is interesting to see how your heart can shift so quickly.  
In that moment, I wanted nothing more to be in the comfort of my home.  I felt helpless.  
But once the initial longing had subsided, I was able to fully rely on my faith and trust in God.  I was exactly where I needed to be, and my family was exactly where they needed to be.  A sense of peace had been restored.  
A knot is still wound in my stomach created from the unsettling thought of my PaPa hurting, but with continued prayer and faith I know that everything will be ok.  Because I have to believe that God only gives us struggles that he knows his children will overcome.
My PaPa is recovering, with second and third degree burns the healing process has not been as speedy as one may wish for.  His first surgery was today, the skin from the top of his shoulders down to his finger tips had to be removed for an upcoming skin graft procedure.  The recovery time will be quite longer than hoped for, with the calendar looking toward four more weeks of being in the hospital.  If you would not mind, my family and I would very much appreciate it if you lifted him up in prayer.  The surgery is a progressive step toward a full recovery, just pray that the pain will continue to be suppressed and that spirits will continue to remain high.  
He is one of the toughest men I have ever been blessed to know, and I am sure that he has no intention of this hurdle holding him back.  

Life on the road.

Always changing, always moving.

I have fallen in love with this gypsy-esque life style. Being surrounded by ever-changing scenery is not only pleasant to the sight, but also invigorating for the soul.  If I could spend all my days traveling, adventuring and building relationships with beautiful people with splendid stories I believe I would leap at the opportunity to do so.

However, life on the road, as alluring as it may seem, does in fact have moments where you feel like you are not where you are meant to be. 

Taken from the wise Pumbaa, “Home is where your rump rests.” 

Lately, I would have to be contrary to this statement. 

Last week I received news that my PaPa had been in an explosive accident while working with oilrigs.  When this news reached my ears, I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of misplacement.  I needed to be home.  Home was no longer on board Reggie, it was with my family miles and miles away.

It is interesting to see how your heart can shift so quickly. 

In that moment, I wanted nothing more to be in the comfort of my home.  I felt helpless. 

But once the initial longing had subsided, I was able to fully rely on my faith and trust in God.  I was exactly where I needed to be, and my family was exactly where they needed to be.  A sense of peace had been restored. 

A knot is still wound in my stomach created from the unsettling thought of my PaPa hurting, but with continued prayer and faith I know that everything will be ok.  Because I have to believe that God only gives us struggles that he knows his children will overcome.

My PaPa is recovering, with second and third degree burns the healing process has not been as speedy as one may wish for.  His first surgery was today, the skin from the top of his shoulders down to his finger tips had to be removed for an upcoming skin graft procedure.  The recovery time will be quite longer than hoped for, with the calendar looking toward four more weeks of being in the hospital.  If you would not mind, my family and I would very much appreciate it if you lifted him up in prayer.  The surgery is a progressive step toward a full recovery, just pray that the pain will continue to be suppressed and that spirits will continue to remain high. 

He is one of the toughest men I have ever been blessed to know, and I am sure that he has no intention of this hurdle holding him back.  

Good Morning.
I hope all of you had delightful night’s rest and are having a splendid summer so far.
So, if you have not heard, I now live on a recreational vehicle named Reggie Valentine.  Throughout the summer I will be traveling the country passionately telling the story of the Got Your Back Movement, all while living and working with my tour life family, whom I love and care for dearly.
We have been on the road for a little more than three weeks, and the word “adventure” does not even begin to describe my experience thus far.  Each day I am growing, learning and discovering things that I would have never uncovered if I had not been blessed with this opportunity.
For instance, I now know that port-o-potties are not as daunting as they may smell, laundromats make great offices, if you locate a water pump you have no need to take a legit shower for a minimum of four days and spiders are not that scary once they have been exterminated properly.  All good things to know, of course.
But seriously, as far as growth is concerned, I feel as though this summer I am finally coming into my own and really discovering who “Elyse” is, what I want to become and where I want to invest my life.  It’s quite terrifying figuring out who you are, and at times it is terribly difficult to process, but despite all of this it has brought me so much joy.  
Because Lord knows journeys do not exist to be simple.  If they were, we would not be blessed with the chance to appreciate the struggle and then rejoice when the struggle has been overcome.  It might take longer than we hope for, but being patient and seeing how God works throughout the journey will be beautiful to see.

Good Morning.

I hope all of you had delightful night’s rest and are having a splendid summer so far.

So, if you have not heard, I now live on a recreational vehicle named Reggie Valentine.  Throughout the summer I will be traveling the country passionately telling the story of the Got Your Back Movement, all while living and working with my tour life family, whom I love and care for dearly.

We have been on the road for a little more than three weeks, and the word “adventure” does not even begin to describe my experience thus far.  Each day I am growing, learning and discovering things that I would have never uncovered if I had not been blessed with this opportunity.

For instance, I now know that port-o-potties are not as daunting as they may smell, laundromats make great offices, if you locate a water pump you have no need to take a legit shower for a minimum of four days and spiders are not that scary once they have been exterminated properly.  All good things to know, of course.

But seriously, as far as growth is concerned, I feel as though this summer I am finally coming into my own and really discovering who “Elyse” is, what I want to become and where I want to invest my life.  It’s quite terrifying figuring out who you are, and at times it is terribly difficult to process, but despite all of this it has brought me so much joy. 

Because Lord knows journeys do not exist to be simple.  If they were, we would not be blessed with the chance to appreciate the struggle and then rejoice when the struggle has been overcome.  It might take longer than we hope for, but being patient and seeing how God works throughout the journey will be beautiful to see.

Rejoice my heart, rejoice my soul.
I am filled to the brim with joy.  What a blessing that has been placed in my life, it has only been a couple days working with the Got Your Back Movement, and even with such little time I feel like I am right at home.
We have hit the ground running training in preparation for the Ground Force tour.  All day long I am surrounded by the most beautiful and most passionate people, and hearing their stories sends my heart soaring.
Even as we spend hours coloring thousands of stickers and wrapping six bajillion t-shirts, I cannot help but be happy.
I thank God for this opportunity and this beautiful adventure, I absolutely cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.

Rejoice my heart, rejoice my soul.

I am filled to the brim with joy.  What a blessing that has been placed in my life, it has only been a couple days working with the Got Your Back Movement, and even with such little time I feel like I am right at home.

We have hit the ground running training in preparation for the Ground Force tour.  All day long I am surrounded by the most beautiful and most passionate people, and hearing their stories sends my heart soaring.

Even as we spend hours coloring thousands of stickers and wrapping six bajillion t-shirts, I cannot help but be happy.

I thank God for this opportunity and this beautiful adventure, I absolutely cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.

“Cut your hair short, and then walk through an airport, so you can dream of destinations… all the while you’re singing good vibrations.”
I cut my hair short(er, than its normal really long.)
I dreamed of my destination.
I eventually sang (or hummed quietly) good vibrations.
The only inconsistency may be found within this line:
I walked through an airport.
Walked is beyond an understatement. 
Would you like to hear a story?  Excuse me, would you like to read a story? I suppose you could give me a ring and have me read the story to you, but I believe that would involve too many steps, so I hope your reading glasses are conveniently sitting near to your computer/smart phone.
Today. June the Fifth. The first day of my internship with the Got Your Back Movement. The first time to navigate and travel all by my lonesome.
The day had gone swimmingly, Sunday school in the morning and a combination of Smallville and packing in the afternoon.  My mom was kind enough to drive me to the airport, in which we walked into quite confidently until the daunting line presented itself before us.  Being pressed for time due to the unhappy passenger passionately exclaiming her discontent to the patient employee, I had made my way swiftly through security, fully trusting that time was on my side.  That only lasted but two seconds; all of a sudden I hear my name ringing through the intercom.
When your name comes through an intercom in an airport, you know the situation is not one you will necessarily look forward to.
In a sense of urgency, I run to the nearest person donning a uniform.  I followed this employee’s directions and found myself in the completely wrong section of the airport.  As I make this discovery, I hear my name called once more.  Oh no.  I begin to bolt.
As I am running like girly-girl, I see the employee who had previously given me directions hurdling my way to tell me that he had told me incorrectly, and that I needed to be on the complete opposite side of the airport.  Deep breath.
I take off running, all the while carrying a sleeping bag, my camera bag, my laptop and two sweatshirts tied around my waist, mom-style.  After a bit of ridiculous stampeding through the airport, I meet my half-way point.  At this moment, I realized that God did not put me on this planet to run.  Then I hear my name over the intercom one last time.
With the “three strikes your out” scenario, I was out of luck.  Out of breath, I push forward and call my mom.  
For this next dramatic scene please take into account the circumstance: leaving home and my family for the entire summer for the first time ever.
My mom answers, and I lose it.  I continue to run through the airport, bags swinging, phone to my ear and tears rolling down my face.  Finally, the end is in sight.  I see my gate.  As if from a scene found in the movies, I am running toward my goal, relief is almost in grasp, but as I cross the finish line I am greeted with,
“I am sorry, but the plane is closed.  You’ll have to get another flight.”
Cue Niagara Falls. Becoming incredibly vulnerable, I pour myself into this man who is standing behind the desk.  Begging, sobbing, more begging and more hysterical sobbing.  
(This is where my prince charming comes to rescue me, and by prince charming I mean this hero of a man standing behind the desk.)
With a sudden jolt of energy, this man commands that his fellow employee run to the captain and plead my case.  Thank the Lord for this sympathetic man.  Within moments, I found myself running down the connecting hallway, down a flight of stairs, outside, on the ground, running up the stairs into the plane and then meeting the other gajillion people who are already seated.
However embarrassing it was to be covered in sweat and tears, shaking, clumsy and just in every sense of the word “a mess” in front of these fine citizens, an overwhelming sense of joy and thankfulness filled my entire body as I sat down to read the latest issue of Sky Mall.
Is that the end? Is that it? Did she make it? What about her mom?
That is most certainly not the end, but the end for tonight.  I have a whole summer of adventures ahead of me.
That is most certainly not it, my connecting flight ended up being delayed, but I had fantastic conversation with my fellow delayed buddies.
Yes, I did make it.  Hallelujah.
And my mom is just fine, she was slightly traumatized after receiving a phone call from her hysteric eldest daughter as she was running through an airport, but in the end she simply laughed at my situation.  Which is what I encourage you to do.

“Cut your hair short, and then walk through an airport, so you can dream of destinations… all the while you’re singing good vibrations.”

I cut my hair short(er, than its normal really long.)

I dreamed of my destination.

I eventually sang (or hummed quietly) good vibrations.

The only inconsistency may be found within this line:

I walked through an airport.

Walked is beyond an understatement. 

Would you like to hear a story?  Excuse me, would you like to read a story? I suppose you could give me a ring and have me read the story to you, but I believe that would involve too many steps, so I hope your reading glasses are conveniently sitting near to your computer/smart phone.

Today. June the Fifth. The first day of my internship with the Got Your Back Movement. The first time to navigate and travel all by my lonesome.

The day had gone swimmingly, Sunday school in the morning and a combination of Smallville and packing in the afternoon.  My mom was kind enough to drive me to the airport, in which we walked into quite confidently until the daunting line presented itself before us.  Being pressed for time due to the unhappy passenger passionately exclaiming her discontent to the patient employee, I had made my way swiftly through security, fully trusting that time was on my side.  That only lasted but two seconds; all of a sudden I hear my name ringing through the intercom.

When your name comes through an intercom in an airport, you know the situation is not one you will necessarily look forward to.

In a sense of urgency, I run to the nearest person donning a uniform.  I followed this employee’s directions and found myself in the completely wrong section of the airport.  As I make this discovery, I hear my name called once more.  Oh no.  I begin to bolt.

As I am running like girly-girl, I see the employee who had previously given me directions hurdling my way to tell me that he had told me incorrectly, and that I needed to be on the complete opposite side of the airport.  Deep breath.

I take off running, all the while carrying a sleeping bag, my camera bag, my laptop and two sweatshirts tied around my waist, mom-style.  After a bit of ridiculous stampeding through the airport, I meet my half-way point.  At this moment, I realized that God did not put me on this planet to run.  Then I hear my name over the intercom one last time.

With the “three strikes your out” scenario, I was out of luck.  Out of breath, I push forward and call my mom. 

For this next dramatic scene please take into account the circumstance: leaving home and my family for the entire summer for the first time ever.

My mom answers, and I lose it.  I continue to run through the airport, bags swinging, phone to my ear and tears rolling down my face.  Finally, the end is in sight.  I see my gate.  As if from a scene found in the movies, I am running toward my goal, relief is almost in grasp, but as I cross the finish line I am greeted with,

“I am sorry, but the plane is closed.  You’ll have to get another flight.”

Cue Niagara Falls. Becoming incredibly vulnerable, I pour myself into this man who is standing behind the desk.  Begging, sobbing, more begging and more hysterical sobbing. 

(This is where my prince charming comes to rescue me, and by prince charming I mean this hero of a man standing behind the desk.)

With a sudden jolt of energy, this man commands that his fellow employee run to the captain and plead my case.  Thank the Lord for this sympathetic man.  Within moments, I found myself running down the connecting hallway, down a flight of stairs, outside, on the ground, running up the stairs into the plane and then meeting the other gajillion people who are already seated.

However embarrassing it was to be covered in sweat and tears, shaking, clumsy and just in every sense of the word “a mess” in front of these fine citizens, an overwhelming sense of joy and thankfulness filled my entire body as I sat down to read the latest issue of Sky Mall.

Is that the end? Is that it? Did she make it? What about her mom?

That is most certainly not the end, but the end for tonight.  I have a whole summer of adventures ahead of me.

That is most certainly not it, my connecting flight ended up being delayed, but I had fantastic conversation with my fellow delayed buddies.

Yes, I did make it.  Hallelujah.

And my mom is just fine, she was slightly traumatized after receiving a phone call from her hysteric eldest daughter as she was running through an airport, but in the end she simply laughed at my situation.  Which is what I encourage you to do.

It is officially the first day of my internship.
My word, time has flown right by.  Just twenty-one years ago I was a chubby, 9 pound 4 ounce baby, and now I am a big kid of sorts.
The past three days have been filled with celebration.  From eating cookie cake and playing in the park, to enjoying Fireworks Friday with the Drillers to buying my first big girl camera and enjoying a birthday dinner, it has been an incredible birthday weekend.
I am truly blessed with the people God has put in my life, each day I am reminded of just how lucky I am to be surrounded with such talented, beautiful and gracious people.  It has been such a joy celebrating this time of my life with my friends and family.
Speaking of my family, they are the best. Best in the entire world.  Because of this fact, leaving for the summer is terribly bitter-sweet.  The longest I have ever been away from home is about three weeks, three short weeks, and today I will be leaving for the entire summer (insert big gulp here).  
I know it will be more than ok though, this internship will be an adventure I will cherish for my entire life.  One of those stories to tell the grandchildren, you know? 
I am quite terrible at ending things, as you will soon discover as you read through my somewhat scrambled thoughts that will be published throughout the summer, so with that in mind please do not mind any abrupt transitions… such as this one.

It is officially the first day of my internship.

My word, time has flown right by.  Just twenty-one years ago I was a chubby, 9 pound 4 ounce baby, and now I am a big kid of sorts.

The past three days have been filled with celebration.  From eating cookie cake and playing in the park, to enjoying Fireworks Friday with the Drillers to buying my first big girl camera and enjoying a birthday dinner, it has been an incredible birthday weekend.

I am truly blessed with the people God has put in my life, each day I am reminded of just how lucky I am to be surrounded with such talented, beautiful and gracious people.  It has been such a joy celebrating this time of my life with my friends and family.

Speaking of my family, they are the best. Best in the entire world.  Because of this fact, leaving for the summer is terribly bitter-sweet.  The longest I have ever been away from home is about three weeks, three short weeks, and today I will be leaving for the entire summer (insert big gulp here).  

I know it will be more than ok though, this internship will be an adventure I will cherish for my entire life.  One of those stories to tell the grandchildren, you know? 

I am quite terrible at ending things, as you will soon discover as you read through my somewhat scrambled thoughts that will be published throughout the summer, so with that in mind please do not mind any abrupt transitions… such as this one.

Well, it’s about time.

This Saturday I will, hopefully, gracefully glide across the commencement stage and receive recognition for completing a great deal of work and study in the field of public relations & communications.

Because the date is gleefully looming above my head I am beginning to become sentimental & mushy in regard to my time spent with Oklahoma State University. 

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, if you continue reading you will have the opportunity to visualize a bit of my college career as I attempt to paint you a somewhat detailed picture of specific defining moments. Married with this, you might also be able to see a little bit into my heart.

Shall we begin with the beginning?

The Memory of Water

Freshman year, oh my dear heavens. Nervous, excited, homesick and determined I walked onto Oklahoma State University’s campus with the intention of figuring out this whole life thing. Normally, freshman year is consumed with social outings and the beginning processes of group attachment and self-identity— however, I do not believe I was destined to do anything remotely normal.

Throughout high school I had participated in theatre & had fallen in love with a life on the stage. Although set on a degree in journalism & broadcasting along with public relations, my feet had followed my heart & I soon found myself standing in front of a call board. Auditions were the next day.

Immediately, I signed my name with my signature smiley face & raced home to scrounge for two contrasting monologues. Thankfully, I was able to manage to piece an audition together & the next day I was sitting patiently in a green room surrounded by people who would soon become my dearest friends. 

As an eighteen-year-old, freshman, non-theatre major, I honestly did not expect anything to come from this particular audition, but I was gratefully & humbly surprised. 

This audition shaped my entire college career.

A few callbacks later, I found my name at the top of a cast list as a lead in a six-person play directed by Matthew Tomlanovich. Literally leaping out of joy, I promptly called each person in my family along with a few of my dear friends. 

Mary would be my first character to play on one of OSU’s stages & she was one of the most challenging, memorable & rewarding. The play was rated “R,” & included cursing, drinking, smoking fake illegal substances and undressing on stage—but it was one of the most beautifully & well-written scripts I had ever read. 

This was the first of many challenges in my college career.

I had to stand firm in my young convictions & refuse to say unladylike words and participate in indecent exposure. Terrified with the possibility of being cut from the show, I awaited the decision of Matt and the head of the department.

This was the first of many answered prayers.

My concerns were justified & my alternative actions were approved. My heart was elated. I knew this was where I was meant to be & an overwhelming peace consumed my entire being. 

From that moment on, I was able to work with an incredibly beautiful and talented cast & crew: Matthew Tomlanovich, Charlet Ringwald, Liz Tabish, Anthony Hill, Dalaina Chester, Brendan Stallings & Katelyn Andersen. As the baby of the cast, I learned from everything this cast and the director taught me. Each moment during rehearsal was a new experience and I absorbed any bit of knowledge & wisdom that was graciously passed along. I fell in love with these people & I am still in love with them, they each hold an incredibly important place in my heart & I respect each of them more than they will ever know.

But, what about college? What about classes?

Yes, I was enrolled in 16 hours & was balancing a full schedule along with the pledging process for Sigma Phi Lambda, all while attempting to construct some sort of on-campus friend network (the majority of the cast was on the verge of graduation & an impending exodus from the college town). 

A typical day for me during my first semester of college looked similar to this: Each morning I would wake up and ready myself for the day, jogging across campus to arrive early to my 8:30 a.m. college algebra course. Throughout the day I would travel from course to course, attempting to catch a quick nap on campus. After classes concluded for the day it would be around dinner time & I would dart to either “The Little Bakery” or “Twenty Something” for a quick on-the-go meal as I swiftly made my way across campus toward the theatre. From this moment, I would spend my evening on a stage until 10 to 10:30 p.m. & would cautiously jog back to the other side of campus to return to my dorm. From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. I would study and complete homework, then I would take a two to three hour nap and wake up early to study and prepare for the following day. 

Needless to say, this was not a normal schedule & I could not have been more thrilled.

This first semester was monumentally formative in my college development & I have “The Memory of Water” to thank. “The Memory of Water” gave me the opportunity to continue to practice my passion & dream, while forming relationships that would encourage & inspire my personal development.

Although I did not have necessarily a “normal” freshman year, I would not have exchanged it for anything else in the world.

It was a sunny afternoon in Colorado and after bathing in the warm light from the top of Reggie, my temporary RV home at the time, I climbed into the cabin slinging my camera around my neck with the intention of capturing the sunset as it nestled behind the Rocky Mountain skyline.  
Chasing the light, I walked near the front porch of the RV community center, and as my eyes locked on the picture ahead I could feel a gaze locking in on me.  Distracted, I pulled my focus away from the surroundings and directed it toward an older man sitting quietly on a porch swing.  Inclined to sit down, I was greeted kindly.  Small talk followed, a simple banter between two strangers, when suddenly the man’s eyes opened widely as he began to dive into a deeper story.  Before my eyes our casual conversation turned into a platform for which this man could tell his personal story and confide his opinions and feelings within a complete stranger.
As he spoke, the tonality in his speech was passionately heightened with his new found podium.  He continued to share his story as the light quickly hid away behind the mountains, this conversation lasting for more than an hour and ending with,
"Well, this has been nice.  No one ever listens to me."
Oh dear heavens, what an emotionally impacting statement.  
Each person has been designed with a desire to reach out, build relationships and be heard.  Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of this.  Both my parents possess a listeners ear, and I have grown up watching their personalities attract people who search for a way to tell their story.  This past summer this observation had been reinforced.
Opening myself up to people and conversations that led to personal and emotional confessions, troubles and praises challenged me to become an active and eager listener who would treasure a person’s story.
How many times a day do we bypass opportunities to connect with each other and provide support for each other?  It can be as simple as listening and genuinely caring about a person’s life and story.  
Just listening.
It does not require much on our part, except for an eager and patient ear, and it will open your head and heart to a world filled with unique people who possess beautiful stories that have the potential to impact your life.
People want to be heard. People want to tell a story and build a relationship.  
My encouragement to any one who may be reading this is to recognize those who are seeking this vocal release and allow yourself to actively listen to the voices that have been lost in the everyday noise that bombards us along our hopefully joyful journeys.

It was a sunny afternoon in Colorado and after bathing in the warm light from the top of Reggie, my temporary RV home at the time, I climbed into the cabin slinging my camera around my neck with the intention of capturing the sunset as it nestled behind the Rocky Mountain skyline.  

Chasing the light, I walked near the front porch of the RV community center, and as my eyes locked on the picture ahead I could feel a gaze locking in on me.  Distracted, I pulled my focus away from the surroundings and directed it toward an older man sitting quietly on a porch swing.  Inclined to sit down, I was greeted kindly.  Small talk followed, a simple banter between two strangers, when suddenly the man’s eyes opened widely as he began to dive into a deeper story.  Before my eyes our casual conversation turned into a platform for which this man could tell his personal story and confide his opinions and feelings within a complete stranger.

As he spoke, the tonality in his speech was passionately heightened with his new found podium.  He continued to share his story as the light quickly hid away behind the mountains, this conversation lasting for more than an hour and ending with,

"Well, this has been nice.  No one ever listens to me."

Oh dear heavens, what an emotionally impacting statement.  

Each person has been designed with a desire to reach out, build relationships and be heard.  Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of this.  Both my parents possess a listeners ear, and I have grown up watching their personalities attract people who search for a way to tell their story.  This past summer this observation had been reinforced.

Opening myself up to people and conversations that led to personal and emotional confessions, troubles and praises challenged me to become an active and eager listener who would treasure a person’s story.

How many times a day do we bypass opportunities to connect with each other and provide support for each other?  It can be as simple as listening and genuinely caring about a person’s life and story.  

Just listening.

It does not require much on our part, except for an eager and patient ear, and it will open your head and heart to a world filled with unique people who possess beautiful stories that have the potential to impact your life.

People want to be heard. People want to tell a story and build a relationship.  

My encouragement to any one who may be reading this is to recognize those who are seeking this vocal release and allow yourself to actively listen to the voices that have been lost in the everyday noise that bombards us along our hopefully joyful journeys.

Hi.
My name is Elyse, and I am restless.
If you have spent time with me you may have an understanding of my responsible, quiet and work-minded nature.
But, if you have spent a pretty large sum of time with me you may have discovered my tendency toward restlessness. 
For example, the past week has been monumental in comparison to the last few months.  You see, this is the first time since the beginning of June that I have stayed in the same city for more than seven days.
And yes, I have been off tour for a couple months, and I do live in a place with a foundation instead of wheels.
Obviously, this fact has not influenced a desire to become still.
If you walk into my current residence, the first thing you will notice is a pair of suitcases, mismatched and zipped tightly.  What you do not see is the material within each suitcase that provides the essentials for a weekend excursion or midweek trip.  You also don’t see the backup suitcase tucked away in my bedroom closet.
For some reason the idea of being able to live out of a suitcase is oddly appealing to me.  Knowing that at any moment I can be well on my way toward an adventure or change of pace is exhilarating and fulfilling.  I blame being restless.
Now, please do not mistake me, I adore home, and I treasure my time spent at home.  The majority of my afternoon drives, do in fact, lead me to my family’s front door.  Also, this restless spirit does not characterize a state of being unreliable.  Personally, rather than restlessness being deemed negative, it has evolved into a positive.
Lately I have been discovering the importance of being restless and the advantage it may ensue.
Because of this nature, life is always moving, always searching for ways to be challenged and propelled forward— constantly working toward bettering oneself and opening up to opportunities that could potentially improve an individual personally and professionally.
Restlessness is by no means a method of running away and a tactic for avoidance, yet it is meeting the moment and chasing after a dream.
So, I am at peace with being restless…
…what a contrary statement : )
This peace has established a base of encouragement as I begin to embark on the next big adventure in deciding what to explore in the upcoming stage of life as a young professional.  Lord only knows where/what that will be, but I refuse to settle and promise to be restless in my search.
I would joyfully welcome the opportunity for you to join me in my restless adventure.  Open to opportunity and eager to explore, I can only hope that my journey will continue toward “sky’s the limit,” “reach for the stars” and “dream big” ideals. 

Hi.

My name is Elyse, and I am restless.

If you have spent time with me you may have an understanding of my responsible, quiet and work-minded nature.

But, if you have spent a pretty large sum of time with me you may have discovered my tendency toward restlessness. 

For example, the past week has been monumental in comparison to the last few months.  You see, this is the first time since the beginning of June that I have stayed in the same city for more than seven days.

And yes, I have been off tour for a couple months, and I do live in a place with a foundation instead of wheels.

Obviously, this fact has not influenced a desire to become still.

If you walk into my current residence, the first thing you will notice is a pair of suitcases, mismatched and zipped tightly.  What you do not see is the material within each suitcase that provides the essentials for a weekend excursion or midweek trip.  You also don’t see the backup suitcase tucked away in my bedroom closet.

For some reason the idea of being able to live out of a suitcase is oddly appealing to me.  Knowing that at any moment I can be well on my way toward an adventure or change of pace is exhilarating and fulfilling.  I blame being restless.

Now, please do not mistake me, I adore home, and I treasure my time spent at home.  The majority of my afternoon drives, do in fact, lead me to my family’s front door.  Also, this restless spirit does not characterize a state of being unreliable.  Personally, rather than restlessness being deemed negative, it has evolved into a positive.

Lately I have been discovering the importance of being restless and the advantage it may ensue.

Because of this nature, life is always moving, always searching for ways to be challenged and propelled forward— constantly working toward bettering oneself and opening up to opportunities that could potentially improve an individual personally and professionally.

Restlessness is by no means a method of running away and a tactic for avoidance, yet it is meeting the moment and chasing after a dream.

So, I am at peace with being restless…

…what a contrary statement : )

This peace has established a base of encouragement as I begin to embark on the next big adventure in deciding what to explore in the upcoming stage of life as a young professional.  Lord only knows where/what that will be, but I refuse to settle and promise to be restless in my search.

I would joyfully welcome the opportunity for you to join me in my restless adventure.  Open to opportunity and eager to explore, I can only hope that my journey will continue toward “sky’s the limit,” “reach for the stars” and “dream big” ideals. 

*The video above is an example of a family road trip. This particular one was to California three or four years ago. Mason has now learned to simply join in on the fun, or bring a better set of headphones. 

Bedtime/Good Morning Story Time.

A month or so ago a large portion of my extended family adventured to the state with the not-so exciting nickname, The Volunteer State.  The nickname is appropriate considering the hub of non-profits seems to be chilling in one of its major cities, but beside the point.  Family vacation was underway.  Tennessee bound.

If you have ever spent time with my family you surely know how rambunctious we have a tendency to be, well, excluding the husbands of the daughters, they attempt to keep it calm.  With this rambunctious and feisty nature in mind, allow me to jump into story time.

Mini-vacationers:

Aunt Gee: The fearless driver.

Little Michael: The future attorney.

JoJo: The little princess.

Ma: The feisty matriarch.

Jeff: The manly man.

Jane: The night owl.

Elyse: The professional traveler.

Emily: The Selena fan.

Elizabeth: The glorified babysitter.

Allan Cole: The brave soul.

Piled into a recreational vehicle repair and rental waiting room patiently wait a rally of Riddles, Millers, Elkins’ and Allan Cole.  Each individual thumbing his or her fingers with eyes glued to a ticking clock.

Why on this beautiful earth would this bunch decide to spend time in a waiting room adorned with mounted animals and a rather intrusive statue of a cowboy?  Well, it all began one summer morning. 

It was a sweltering 110-degree, July day as the troop began to prepare for a mini-vacation to Nashville, Tennessee.  Because of the sheer number of mini-vacationers, a recreational vehicle was rented to ensure comfortable and convenient travels.

With an agenda set, they were ready to be on their merry way.  However, this family is particularly known for being flexible and bending time.

Let’s start at the Elkinido household.  The RV pulled down the tree-lined street as a family of four women and Jeff topple into the vehicle tossing in suitcases, woobies and gluten-free snacks.  Ready to go, the fearless driver decided to give the home on wheels a once over before the final departure.  To her dismay and horror she discovered the generator was malfunctioning.

The thought of driving nine hours with zero air-conditioning through 100-degree temperatures was unbearable, and so she was off to the RV repair and rental store.

To save time, part of the crew traveled a bit to pick up the matriarch of the family and tend to the four precious puppies they had to leave behind.  Once back in civilization, they traveled quite away to reach the rest of the clan.

From here, our story is halted for a few hours due to a trip to the RV doctor. 

Turns out, the problem could not be solved.

The final solution: drive one mini-van and one suburban to Nashville. 

Hurriedly, each person dives into the RV to unpack their belongings and move them into the appropriate vehicle.  All the while, the matriarch of this family was giving the RV people a piece of her mind.

Dripping in sweat and red in the face, it was time to leave. 

But wait. One more stop, back to our fearless driver’s home to unload perishable and unnecessary items.  Then back on the road.

To conclude this tale and transition from the abrupt ending, the humor of this story may be found in the fact that this family set their own agenda as the day progressed, and that after five hours of being on the road they ended up only five minutes away from their front door.

Don’t worry. They eventually made it to Nashville, only after stopping at each gas station along to way to pick up scratch cards, snacks and sodas.

And they all traveled happily ever after.

The end.

Fried okra.
Methodically and carefully prepared by a man with a gentle spirit and strong hands.  One week ago, all that consumed my mind was fried okra.
As a little girl, I remember running through the old, wooden house with the crooked stairs and the front yard filled with no less than 13 dogs.  I remember each nook and cranny, each hidden room, each brass figurine and each step it took to reach the tip top of the house.
Dinnertime has always been an event in our extended family, and in preparation for dinner my Papa would create flavorful fried okra.  Before the splendid appetizer could reach the table, I would have eaten half of the batch and begun begging for more.  I had always desired to learn how to cook fried okra the way my Papa cooked fried okra, so as he worked he had a set of eager hazel eyes watching over his every move.  I would gaze as he carefully poured water over the vegetable, as he precisely cut it into perfect pieces and as he masterfully added the exact amount of oil and spices.  He always knew what to do.  He never followed a recipe.  He just knew.
As I held my gaze steady on this process, my eyes seemed to always fall toward his hands.  I remember the tanned skin, the calloused fingers and the many scars.  I remember that no matter how rough the hands were, I knew that they were gentle.  I knew they belonged to a wise, quiet man.  My Papa.
These hands have traveled the world.  These hands have piloted planes.  These hands have drawn oil from the ground.  These hands have written pages of poetry.  These hands have graded hundreds of papers.  These hands have held the love of his life.  These hands have guided four children.  These hands have encouraged eleven grandchildren toward excellence.  These hands picked wildflowers.  These hands gave to those in need.  These hands made what was broken, fixed brand new.  These hands worked each day to ensure that a better life was made for those whose voice was lost.  These hands made a difference.  
Last week I held these hands, they were bandaged and swollen, but all I saw were the strong, gentle hands of my Papa that served me and helped guide me throughout my life.  
“I would rather be a whisper in the wind than a trumpet fanfare and the sound of drums, a subtle presence that makes a difference, unnoticed and thought to be just because it was,” Dr. William T. Riddle.

Fried okra.

Methodically and carefully prepared by a man with a gentle spirit and strong hands.  One week ago, all that consumed my mind was fried okra.

As a little girl, I remember running through the old, wooden house with the crooked stairs and the front yard filled with no less than 13 dogs.  I remember each nook and cranny, each hidden room, each brass figurine and each step it took to reach the tip top of the house.

Dinnertime has always been an event in our extended family, and in preparation for dinner my Papa would create flavorful fried okra.  Before the splendid appetizer could reach the table, I would have eaten half of the batch and begun begging for more.  I had always desired to learn how to cook fried okra the way my Papa cooked fried okra, so as he worked he had a set of eager hazel eyes watching over his every move.  I would gaze as he carefully poured water over the vegetable, as he precisely cut it into perfect pieces and as he masterfully added the exact amount of oil and spices.  He always knew what to do.  He never followed a recipe.  He just knew.

As I held my gaze steady on this process, my eyes seemed to always fall toward his hands.  I remember the tanned skin, the calloused fingers and the many scars.  I remember that no matter how rough the hands were, I knew that they were gentle.  I knew they belonged to a wise, quiet man.  My Papa.

These hands have traveled the world.  These hands have piloted planes.  These hands have drawn oil from the ground.  These hands have written pages of poetry.  These hands have graded hundreds of papers.  These hands have held the love of his life.  These hands have guided four children.  These hands have encouraged eleven grandchildren toward excellence.  These hands picked wildflowers.  These hands gave to those in need.  These hands made what was broken, fixed brand new.  These hands worked each day to ensure that a better life was made for those whose voice was lost.  These hands made a difference. 

Last week I held these hands, they were bandaged and swollen, but all I saw were the strong, gentle hands of my Papa that served me and helped guide me throughout my life. 

“I would rather be a whisper in the wind than a trumpet fanfare and the sound of drums, a subtle presence that makes a difference, unnoticed and thought to be just because it was,” Dr. William T. Riddle.

Life on the road.
Always changing, always moving.
I have fallen in love with this gypsy-esque life style. Being surrounded by ever-changing scenery is not only pleasant to the sight, but also invigorating for the soul.  If I could spend all my days traveling, adventuring and building relationships with beautiful people with splendid stories I believe I would leap at the opportunity to do so.
However, life on the road, as alluring as it may seem, does in fact have moments where you feel like you are not where you are meant to be.  
Taken from the wise Pumbaa, “Home is where your rump rests.”  
Lately, I would have to be contrary to this statement.  
Last week I received news that my PaPa had been in an explosive accident while working with oilrigs.  When this news reached my ears, I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of misplacement.  I needed to be home.  Home was no longer on board Reggie, it was with my family miles and miles away.
It is interesting to see how your heart can shift so quickly.  
In that moment, I wanted nothing more to be in the comfort of my home.  I felt helpless.  
But once the initial longing had subsided, I was able to fully rely on my faith and trust in God.  I was exactly where I needed to be, and my family was exactly where they needed to be.  A sense of peace had been restored.  
A knot is still wound in my stomach created from the unsettling thought of my PaPa hurting, but with continued prayer and faith I know that everything will be ok.  Because I have to believe that God only gives us struggles that he knows his children will overcome.
My PaPa is recovering, with second and third degree burns the healing process has not been as speedy as one may wish for.  His first surgery was today, the skin from the top of his shoulders down to his finger tips had to be removed for an upcoming skin graft procedure.  The recovery time will be quite longer than hoped for, with the calendar looking toward four more weeks of being in the hospital.  If you would not mind, my family and I would very much appreciate it if you lifted him up in prayer.  The surgery is a progressive step toward a full recovery, just pray that the pain will continue to be suppressed and that spirits will continue to remain high.  
He is one of the toughest men I have ever been blessed to know, and I am sure that he has no intention of this hurdle holding him back.  

Life on the road.

Always changing, always moving.

I have fallen in love with this gypsy-esque life style. Being surrounded by ever-changing scenery is not only pleasant to the sight, but also invigorating for the soul.  If I could spend all my days traveling, adventuring and building relationships with beautiful people with splendid stories I believe I would leap at the opportunity to do so.

However, life on the road, as alluring as it may seem, does in fact have moments where you feel like you are not where you are meant to be. 

Taken from the wise Pumbaa, “Home is where your rump rests.” 

Lately, I would have to be contrary to this statement. 

Last week I received news that my PaPa had been in an explosive accident while working with oilrigs.  When this news reached my ears, I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of misplacement.  I needed to be home.  Home was no longer on board Reggie, it was with my family miles and miles away.

It is interesting to see how your heart can shift so quickly. 

In that moment, I wanted nothing more to be in the comfort of my home.  I felt helpless. 

But once the initial longing had subsided, I was able to fully rely on my faith and trust in God.  I was exactly where I needed to be, and my family was exactly where they needed to be.  A sense of peace had been restored. 

A knot is still wound in my stomach created from the unsettling thought of my PaPa hurting, but with continued prayer and faith I know that everything will be ok.  Because I have to believe that God only gives us struggles that he knows his children will overcome.

My PaPa is recovering, with second and third degree burns the healing process has not been as speedy as one may wish for.  His first surgery was today, the skin from the top of his shoulders down to his finger tips had to be removed for an upcoming skin graft procedure.  The recovery time will be quite longer than hoped for, with the calendar looking toward four more weeks of being in the hospital.  If you would not mind, my family and I would very much appreciate it if you lifted him up in prayer.  The surgery is a progressive step toward a full recovery, just pray that the pain will continue to be suppressed and that spirits will continue to remain high. 

He is one of the toughest men I have ever been blessed to know, and I am sure that he has no intention of this hurdle holding him back.  

Good Morning.
I hope all of you had delightful night’s rest and are having a splendid summer so far.
So, if you have not heard, I now live on a recreational vehicle named Reggie Valentine.  Throughout the summer I will be traveling the country passionately telling the story of the Got Your Back Movement, all while living and working with my tour life family, whom I love and care for dearly.
We have been on the road for a little more than three weeks, and the word “adventure” does not even begin to describe my experience thus far.  Each day I am growing, learning and discovering things that I would have never uncovered if I had not been blessed with this opportunity.
For instance, I now know that port-o-potties are not as daunting as they may smell, laundromats make great offices, if you locate a water pump you have no need to take a legit shower for a minimum of four days and spiders are not that scary once they have been exterminated properly.  All good things to know, of course.
But seriously, as far as growth is concerned, I feel as though this summer I am finally coming into my own and really discovering who “Elyse” is, what I want to become and where I want to invest my life.  It’s quite terrifying figuring out who you are, and at times it is terribly difficult to process, but despite all of this it has brought me so much joy.  
Because Lord knows journeys do not exist to be simple.  If they were, we would not be blessed with the chance to appreciate the struggle and then rejoice when the struggle has been overcome.  It might take longer than we hope for, but being patient and seeing how God works throughout the journey will be beautiful to see.

Good Morning.

I hope all of you had delightful night’s rest and are having a splendid summer so far.

So, if you have not heard, I now live on a recreational vehicle named Reggie Valentine.  Throughout the summer I will be traveling the country passionately telling the story of the Got Your Back Movement, all while living and working with my tour life family, whom I love and care for dearly.

We have been on the road for a little more than three weeks, and the word “adventure” does not even begin to describe my experience thus far.  Each day I am growing, learning and discovering things that I would have never uncovered if I had not been blessed with this opportunity.

For instance, I now know that port-o-potties are not as daunting as they may smell, laundromats make great offices, if you locate a water pump you have no need to take a legit shower for a minimum of four days and spiders are not that scary once they have been exterminated properly.  All good things to know, of course.

But seriously, as far as growth is concerned, I feel as though this summer I am finally coming into my own and really discovering who “Elyse” is, what I want to become and where I want to invest my life.  It’s quite terrifying figuring out who you are, and at times it is terribly difficult to process, but despite all of this it has brought me so much joy. 

Because Lord knows journeys do not exist to be simple.  If they were, we would not be blessed with the chance to appreciate the struggle and then rejoice when the struggle has been overcome.  It might take longer than we hope for, but being patient and seeing how God works throughout the journey will be beautiful to see.

Rejoice my heart, rejoice my soul.
I am filled to the brim with joy.  What a blessing that has been placed in my life, it has only been a couple days working with the Got Your Back Movement, and even with such little time I feel like I am right at home.
We have hit the ground running training in preparation for the Ground Force tour.  All day long I am surrounded by the most beautiful and most passionate people, and hearing their stories sends my heart soaring.
Even as we spend hours coloring thousands of stickers and wrapping six bajillion t-shirts, I cannot help but be happy.
I thank God for this opportunity and this beautiful adventure, I absolutely cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.

Rejoice my heart, rejoice my soul.

I am filled to the brim with joy.  What a blessing that has been placed in my life, it has only been a couple days working with the Got Your Back Movement, and even with such little time I feel like I am right at home.

We have hit the ground running training in preparation for the Ground Force tour.  All day long I am surrounded by the most beautiful and most passionate people, and hearing their stories sends my heart soaring.

Even as we spend hours coloring thousands of stickers and wrapping six bajillion t-shirts, I cannot help but be happy.

I thank God for this opportunity and this beautiful adventure, I absolutely cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.

“Cut your hair short, and then walk through an airport, so you can dream of destinations… all the while you’re singing good vibrations.”
I cut my hair short(er, than its normal really long.)
I dreamed of my destination.
I eventually sang (or hummed quietly) good vibrations.
The only inconsistency may be found within this line:
I walked through an airport.
Walked is beyond an understatement. 
Would you like to hear a story?  Excuse me, would you like to read a story? I suppose you could give me a ring and have me read the story to you, but I believe that would involve too many steps, so I hope your reading glasses are conveniently sitting near to your computer/smart phone.
Today. June the Fifth. The first day of my internship with the Got Your Back Movement. The first time to navigate and travel all by my lonesome.
The day had gone swimmingly, Sunday school in the morning and a combination of Smallville and packing in the afternoon.  My mom was kind enough to drive me to the airport, in which we walked into quite confidently until the daunting line presented itself before us.  Being pressed for time due to the unhappy passenger passionately exclaiming her discontent to the patient employee, I had made my way swiftly through security, fully trusting that time was on my side.  That only lasted but two seconds; all of a sudden I hear my name ringing through the intercom.
When your name comes through an intercom in an airport, you know the situation is not one you will necessarily look forward to.
In a sense of urgency, I run to the nearest person donning a uniform.  I followed this employee’s directions and found myself in the completely wrong section of the airport.  As I make this discovery, I hear my name called once more.  Oh no.  I begin to bolt.
As I am running like girly-girl, I see the employee who had previously given me directions hurdling my way to tell me that he had told me incorrectly, and that I needed to be on the complete opposite side of the airport.  Deep breath.
I take off running, all the while carrying a sleeping bag, my camera bag, my laptop and two sweatshirts tied around my waist, mom-style.  After a bit of ridiculous stampeding through the airport, I meet my half-way point.  At this moment, I realized that God did not put me on this planet to run.  Then I hear my name over the intercom one last time.
With the “three strikes your out” scenario, I was out of luck.  Out of breath, I push forward and call my mom.  
For this next dramatic scene please take into account the circumstance: leaving home and my family for the entire summer for the first time ever.
My mom answers, and I lose it.  I continue to run through the airport, bags swinging, phone to my ear and tears rolling down my face.  Finally, the end is in sight.  I see my gate.  As if from a scene found in the movies, I am running toward my goal, relief is almost in grasp, but as I cross the finish line I am greeted with,
“I am sorry, but the plane is closed.  You’ll have to get another flight.”
Cue Niagara Falls. Becoming incredibly vulnerable, I pour myself into this man who is standing behind the desk.  Begging, sobbing, more begging and more hysterical sobbing.  
(This is where my prince charming comes to rescue me, and by prince charming I mean this hero of a man standing behind the desk.)
With a sudden jolt of energy, this man commands that his fellow employee run to the captain and plead my case.  Thank the Lord for this sympathetic man.  Within moments, I found myself running down the connecting hallway, down a flight of stairs, outside, on the ground, running up the stairs into the plane and then meeting the other gajillion people who are already seated.
However embarrassing it was to be covered in sweat and tears, shaking, clumsy and just in every sense of the word “a mess” in front of these fine citizens, an overwhelming sense of joy and thankfulness filled my entire body as I sat down to read the latest issue of Sky Mall.
Is that the end? Is that it? Did she make it? What about her mom?
That is most certainly not the end, but the end for tonight.  I have a whole summer of adventures ahead of me.
That is most certainly not it, my connecting flight ended up being delayed, but I had fantastic conversation with my fellow delayed buddies.
Yes, I did make it.  Hallelujah.
And my mom is just fine, she was slightly traumatized after receiving a phone call from her hysteric eldest daughter as she was running through an airport, but in the end she simply laughed at my situation.  Which is what I encourage you to do.

“Cut your hair short, and then walk through an airport, so you can dream of destinations… all the while you’re singing good vibrations.”

I cut my hair short(er, than its normal really long.)

I dreamed of my destination.

I eventually sang (or hummed quietly) good vibrations.

The only inconsistency may be found within this line:

I walked through an airport.

Walked is beyond an understatement. 

Would you like to hear a story?  Excuse me, would you like to read a story? I suppose you could give me a ring and have me read the story to you, but I believe that would involve too many steps, so I hope your reading glasses are conveniently sitting near to your computer/smart phone.

Today. June the Fifth. The first day of my internship with the Got Your Back Movement. The first time to navigate and travel all by my lonesome.

The day had gone swimmingly, Sunday school in the morning and a combination of Smallville and packing in the afternoon.  My mom was kind enough to drive me to the airport, in which we walked into quite confidently until the daunting line presented itself before us.  Being pressed for time due to the unhappy passenger passionately exclaiming her discontent to the patient employee, I had made my way swiftly through security, fully trusting that time was on my side.  That only lasted but two seconds; all of a sudden I hear my name ringing through the intercom.

When your name comes through an intercom in an airport, you know the situation is not one you will necessarily look forward to.

In a sense of urgency, I run to the nearest person donning a uniform.  I followed this employee’s directions and found myself in the completely wrong section of the airport.  As I make this discovery, I hear my name called once more.  Oh no.  I begin to bolt.

As I am running like girly-girl, I see the employee who had previously given me directions hurdling my way to tell me that he had told me incorrectly, and that I needed to be on the complete opposite side of the airport.  Deep breath.

I take off running, all the while carrying a sleeping bag, my camera bag, my laptop and two sweatshirts tied around my waist, mom-style.  After a bit of ridiculous stampeding through the airport, I meet my half-way point.  At this moment, I realized that God did not put me on this planet to run.  Then I hear my name over the intercom one last time.

With the “three strikes your out” scenario, I was out of luck.  Out of breath, I push forward and call my mom. 

For this next dramatic scene please take into account the circumstance: leaving home and my family for the entire summer for the first time ever.

My mom answers, and I lose it.  I continue to run through the airport, bags swinging, phone to my ear and tears rolling down my face.  Finally, the end is in sight.  I see my gate.  As if from a scene found in the movies, I am running toward my goal, relief is almost in grasp, but as I cross the finish line I am greeted with,

“I am sorry, but the plane is closed.  You’ll have to get another flight.”

Cue Niagara Falls. Becoming incredibly vulnerable, I pour myself into this man who is standing behind the desk.  Begging, sobbing, more begging and more hysterical sobbing. 

(This is where my prince charming comes to rescue me, and by prince charming I mean this hero of a man standing behind the desk.)

With a sudden jolt of energy, this man commands that his fellow employee run to the captain and plead my case.  Thank the Lord for this sympathetic man.  Within moments, I found myself running down the connecting hallway, down a flight of stairs, outside, on the ground, running up the stairs into the plane and then meeting the other gajillion people who are already seated.

However embarrassing it was to be covered in sweat and tears, shaking, clumsy and just in every sense of the word “a mess” in front of these fine citizens, an overwhelming sense of joy and thankfulness filled my entire body as I sat down to read the latest issue of Sky Mall.

Is that the end? Is that it? Did she make it? What about her mom?

That is most certainly not the end, but the end for tonight.  I have a whole summer of adventures ahead of me.

That is most certainly not it, my connecting flight ended up being delayed, but I had fantastic conversation with my fellow delayed buddies.

Yes, I did make it.  Hallelujah.

And my mom is just fine, she was slightly traumatized after receiving a phone call from her hysteric eldest daughter as she was running through an airport, but in the end she simply laughed at my situation.  Which is what I encourage you to do.

It is officially the first day of my internship.
My word, time has flown right by.  Just twenty-one years ago I was a chubby, 9 pound 4 ounce baby, and now I am a big kid of sorts.
The past three days have been filled with celebration.  From eating cookie cake and playing in the park, to enjoying Fireworks Friday with the Drillers to buying my first big girl camera and enjoying a birthday dinner, it has been an incredible birthday weekend.
I am truly blessed with the people God has put in my life, each day I am reminded of just how lucky I am to be surrounded with such talented, beautiful and gracious people.  It has been such a joy celebrating this time of my life with my friends and family.
Speaking of my family, they are the best. Best in the entire world.  Because of this fact, leaving for the summer is terribly bitter-sweet.  The longest I have ever been away from home is about three weeks, three short weeks, and today I will be leaving for the entire summer (insert big gulp here).  
I know it will be more than ok though, this internship will be an adventure I will cherish for my entire life.  One of those stories to tell the grandchildren, you know? 
I am quite terrible at ending things, as you will soon discover as you read through my somewhat scrambled thoughts that will be published throughout the summer, so with that in mind please do not mind any abrupt transitions… such as this one.

It is officially the first day of my internship.

My word, time has flown right by.  Just twenty-one years ago I was a chubby, 9 pound 4 ounce baby, and now I am a big kid of sorts.

The past three days have been filled with celebration.  From eating cookie cake and playing in the park, to enjoying Fireworks Friday with the Drillers to buying my first big girl camera and enjoying a birthday dinner, it has been an incredible birthday weekend.

I am truly blessed with the people God has put in my life, each day I am reminded of just how lucky I am to be surrounded with such talented, beautiful and gracious people.  It has been such a joy celebrating this time of my life with my friends and family.

Speaking of my family, they are the best. Best in the entire world.  Because of this fact, leaving for the summer is terribly bitter-sweet.  The longest I have ever been away from home is about three weeks, three short weeks, and today I will be leaving for the entire summer (insert big gulp here).  

I know it will be more than ok though, this internship will be an adventure I will cherish for my entire life.  One of those stories to tell the grandchildren, you know? 

I am quite terrible at ending things, as you will soon discover as you read through my somewhat scrambled thoughts that will be published throughout the summer, so with that in mind please do not mind any abrupt transitions… such as this one.

About:

Hi. I'm Elyse.
I love God, and I love people.
I work terribly hard, and I am passionate about quite a few things.
A few of those include, but are not limited to: my faith, my family and serving others.

Professionaly, I talk to/inform/encourage people. On occasion what I do involves making pretty things, reading fantastic literature, discovering passions and creating insanely thorough media/marketing/communication plans.

Personally, I practice dreaming, adventuring, theatre, photography, storytelling and smiling. I smile a bunch.

Hi.

*Author of smalltownadventure.blogspot.com

Following: