June 6, 1944

I’ve been to Normandy.

I’ve walked on Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. I’ve seen the church that American paratrooper John Steele’s parachute got caught on (he pretended to be dead to avoid being killed). I’ve visited the Airborne Museum and the Utah Beach Museum. I stood at Pointe du Hoc, looked down the treacherous edge, and wondered how on earth Army Rangers had climbed up. I wondered “how did they do it?” a lot at Normandy.

My memories of visiting Normandy have faded a little bit.

I remember Normandy, but not as vividly as I used to. I remember the feelings of being there more than anything. I remember feeling a little strange, walking through a place that was now so beautiful, peaceful, and, in some ways, touristy. It felt strange knowing that years ago, people did not come to this place to take pictures, vacation, or buy postcards. Instead, brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen came to this place and broke through the Atlantic Wall to free Europe from Nazi Germany’s clutches. A battle had raged here, on the beaches, on the cliffs, in the towns.

I felt sad and solemn walking on the beaches, staring at the memorials, hearing the waves hit the sand, and seeing things such as canteens and patches in glass museum cases. While Normandy did feel a little touristy, it was also a very solemn place. It was solemn, as if the places and things, remembered what had happened at Normandy too, and they kept quiet and still in remembrance. It was indeed sobering to know that so many men had died on D-Day.

But there were other feelings that I felt as I wandered around Normandy. Pride was one of those feelings. I felt proud of what the brave servicemen had accomplished at Normandy. And the other feelings were deep gratitude for their sacrifices and service, admiration of their bravery and selflessness, and respect for them. After all…

Because of what happened on June 6, 1944, I am free.

Because of D-Day, I live in a better world. Because of the sacrifices of so many so long ago, I and many others enjoy many freedoms, from the freedom to worship as we please to the freedom to write what we believe. We owe so much to the men who fought for freedom on June 6, 1944.

On this 76th anniversary of D-Day, let’s remember the men who fought in Normandy. Let us remember them and their courage and sacrifice. And let us honor them by living lives of courage and sacrifice.

What Goodbye Hasn’t Taught Me (And What It Has)

This is taken from a writing exercise that I completed at the Young Writer’s Workshop at Messiah College. Registration for this year’s workshop is currently open! Click here to learn more. If you would like to support the scholarship fund for this workshop, please consider purchasing a copy of The Young Writer’s Workshop Journal: Messiah College 2019. It features works by myself and my friends from last year’s workshop, and a purchase helps other writers have the opportunity to go to the workshop! Click here to get a copy.

Goodbye Hasn’t Taught Me…

  • What staying in one place for more than three years feels like.
  • How to leave or be left without pain or tears.
  • Why some goodbyes don’t feel like goodbye.
  • That goodbye gets easier as time ticks away.
  • That home is a place.
  • Where I’m “from.”
  • How to forget.

Goodbye Has Taught Me…

  • How to leave a place you love for a place you know only by name.
  • Home is people, not a place.
  • That leaving or being left by people is a thousand times worse than leaving a place. 
  • Why savoring every moment is important.
  • To look on the bright side.
  • That watching your home fade into nothing is as painful as watching a part of yourself slip away.
  • To remember that not all goodbyes are sad ones. 
  • Goodbye doesn’t always mean the end. Sometimes, it means once upon a time…

What has (or hasn’t) goodbye taught you?

3 Questions That Every Homeschooled Kid Hates

I am homeschooled.

I have been homeschooled since preschool. Now, as a senior in high school, I will honestly say that I am so grateful for this. I have loved all of the opportunities that being homeschooled has given me, and I would not change a thing about my education (unless we are discussing skipping geometry…). However, there is something that I hate about being homeschooled.

That something is questions like the following and the reactions and responses that they elicit.

I am sure that I am not alone in this! Here are the questions that I hate….

Where do you go to school?/What school do you go to?

This question is no fun because it opens up the floodgates for these questions…

Do you like that?

Okay, let’s take a step back here. If I said that I went to such-and-such high school, would you ask me something like, “Well, do you like that whole public school thing? Do you like your school? Are you getting an education?” No, you wouldn’t ask me that, because going to public school is “normal.”

How do you make friends/socialize?

I’ve been asked about my socialization at least a thousand times. To be honest, this is kinda insulting. By saying this, people are insinuating that I have no friends or that my social skills are nonexistent.

Homeschooled kids are not some oddity to be questioned.

We are normal kids. Just because we do schoolwork at home does not mean that we are weird or should be incessantly questioned.

If you want more homeschool truths, check out this video by Blimey Cow “How to Respond to Homeschool HATERS.” I laughed SO HARD but also could not help but admit that it was SO TRUE. Definitely give it a watch!

Homeschool friends: What’s a question that YOU hate?

18 Things I’ve Learned in 18 Years of Life

One: Dream big.

Two: The world does not revolve around you.

Three: You’re going to fail. You’re going to fall down. You’re going to mess up. And that is okay. When you do fail, give yourself grace, get back up, and try again (maybe even in a different and better way). Take comfort and rest in the fact that you serve a God who loves you no matter how you fail, a God who will never ever fail you.

Four: Worrying does nothing but drain you of your joy, your life, and your time. Cast all your cares on Christ.

Five: Forget the mirror. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Remember what He thinks of you when He looks at you, His creation. Beautiful.

Six: Treasure your good memories of the past, but do not let the bad ones define you. Look forward to the future, but do not focus on it only. And remember: Treat the present as a gift.

Seven: Love is hard, but love is worth it.

Eight: Give thanks.

Nine: Life is short. Eat the cake. Dance in the rain. Take a dare. Go on the trip. Say yes (or say no!). Live life to the fullest, because every day is a gift.

Ten: Home is not a place. Home is people. Home is family and friends. Wherever I am with them, I am home. I can be in the high desert of Utah or the mountains of Washington, and as long as I am with my people, I am home.

Eleven: You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.

Twelve: Being the odd one out is not a bad thing.

Thirteen: Hold on to hope.

Fourteen: You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. -A.A. Milne

Fifteen: Stories have the power to change the world.

Sixteen: It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to use up a box of Kleenex or cry until you cannot cry anymore. It’s okay to curl up under your covers and just cry.

Seventeen: Write the story of your heart. ❤

Eighteen: You and I are loved by God with a never-stopping, never-giving-up, un-breaking, always-and-forever love. Always.