A Special Thanks

“I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I wont forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me.”

At some point in our lives, I believe we have all spoken those words through song, but have we meant it? Have you ever truly sat down and thought about the meaningful lyrics that salute our country and those who have died fighting for it? Well, this past weekend should have served as a reminder of those important thoughts as Memorial Day was observed. Where I am from, this holiday typically signals the end of a school year, a crazy crowd at the lake, and the beginning of a beautiful summer. However, it is crucial that we sit down and observe the real meaning and reason for this day off of work.flag 2

Some are called to enter the armed forces as way to pay tribute to their country and we must honor them and their contributions. But, if you have not been called to serve in that way, you are not off the hook. We must ALL find a way to contribute to the advancement of our country and to preserve its unique qualities. I encourage you to search within yourself and discover what special qualities you have that can be used toward our country. No effort is too small and one person really can make a difference.

“‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away…”

Only at Erskine…

So i just got back in from having lunch with a friend from Erskine. And you know what? I had such a great time.

I know Erskine is small. It’s in the middle of what seems like nowhere. People know all your business…BUT the kind of friendships you can build at a school like Erskine is truly something special. I thank God for the wonderful people I’ve been able to meet through Erskine. Today’s lunch date definitely reminded me to be thankful for those relationships and to make sure I don’t take them for advantage.

I know it seems like your life revolves around your usual circle of friends in high school, but to be honest I only talk to about 3 people from my high school on a regular basis and I went to a small private high school. Not to say that friendships from high school don’t matter, but once you’re older and all of you are separated that’s when the test of true friendship occurs. Even though some friendships from high school didn’t last, I’m extremely grateful for the new ones that I’ve made.

It’s easy to take the little things in life like having running water, being able to get around, knowing how to read, for granted, but don’t take people for granted. Friendships aren’t litte things. God created us as social beings and He knew we would need each other to make it trough this crazy thing called life.

So stop whatever you’re doing right now and take time to tell your friends and loved ones that you appreciate them being in your life.

The voyage back home

Many boxes and bags, 2 determined women and one stuffed grandma car on a 1,200 mile voyage back to my Midwest home = a fun success! After graduation and the celebrations that come with it, we were singing the Mother Goose’s rhyme, “Home again, home again, jiggity jig” It was a fun, exciting and successful trip with a twist of a roller coaster ride of emotions.

What emotions? Sad, happy, excited, anxious, hopeful, etc. Which one of them could possibly be going on after I finished a chapter in the book of my life? All of them! The symbolic scene of the foothills after winding though the mountains brought tears to my eyes. When am I going to see them again? When am I going to be with my friends I built relationships with over the past 2 years? Where does this leave me now? Into the unknown??

Besides the roller coast of emotions it the road trip was a breeze. The GPS’ destination was set, Google maps were printed out AND an atlas was in hand! We were not going to be lost; we made sure of it! The saying, “Having too much of a good thing maybe bad thing” did not pertain to us though. We were able to keep all of our aids straight. Pit stops for gas, restrooms, food, and to stretch helped us keep the trip stress free. After all we were in no rush to get home to work, unpacking and other such unpleasant tasks. Although, set out sights on making it a two day trip.  But squeezed in a few hours for a shopping break to stretch out our legs and see new scenery. 😉 After all, we are girls; shopping is our favorite activity!

The mountains are symbolic to me because it had a profound feeling of leaving the north and entering the south. So the feeling of leaving my home of 2 years was a toughie. Leaving in general is difficult because the uncertainty of what next sets in. I don’t exactly have any plans, but I am making efforts to set myself up for opportunities. As for my friends, we will keep in touch. Facebook, Skype, text messages, phone calls and emails make that possibly and very easy! But seeing them again is up in the air. Spread out across the United States and beyond, we will hopefully work something out!

The road trip not only brought immediate joy, but warmth though out my body that only my friends and family from home can ignite. I am truly enjoying my family and friends who have been missing from my life but not absent in my thoughts and heart.

My last 3 days…

I felt time winding down as graduation inched closer and closer. Finishing this chapter in my life didn’t bring tears or sadness, but energy and excitement! I have called Erskine/Due West my home over the past 2 years but I didn’t shed a single tear my last 3 days. Why? As the seniors wrap up their undergrad everything seems so rewarding. Ranging from awards, no final exams, senior activities, beautiful whether, graduation gifts, etc the past 4 years of working hard has paid off! Also, being surrounded by so many people I cared about, sadness didn’t have the opportunity to set in. My mom and 2 sisters were down for graduation and I spent time with friends I had grown so close to, what more could I want!

The 4 Albers girls spent a fun and relaxing day in the neat and beautiful city, Greenville. They fell in love with the artsy atmosphere of neat shops. On this particular weekend, talented artists took over Main Street to show off their art for Artisphere. We simply took free ganders at the masterpieces and took home the insight it gave us. Among the artsy city, tranquility lines the streets. The sidewalks are creatively lined with quotes to ponder as you roam the city. Also, the Reedy river and park runs free in the heart of the town giving a place for families, like my own, to enjoy nature right in the midst of a large city! We all agreed that we have never been to a city like Greenville. I am so glad my family was able to enjoy one of the neatest cities in South Carolina.

awards banquet

Volleyball gave me a sense of identy for 10 plus years. In return, I was molded into the individual I am today because of the family we became.

The graduation festivities continued after graduation as well. I was extremely happy that I was able to say goodbye to my volleyball team over a meaningful farewell dinner. Looking down the table at all the girls, I saw young ladies, scholars, collegiate athletes and fellow members of the Erskine community. They all have developed so much in each one of those roles over the past 2 years. I am excited to see what time brings for these energy-filled, genuine individuals.

The past 3 days has told me that I have so much to be thankful for. And tears were shed because of that as I was homebound. Along with my team, I developed so many skills, befriended lifelong companions and had an experience unable to be replicated by another individual. So my challenge to you is to embrace all you have. Seek what interests you, act with a strong drive and love like you won’t have a heart tomorrow. So when you have just 3 days left of high school, college, the week or a vacation, you can wear a smile tagged with pride of who and where you have been!

Summer has just begun…

Summer has just started and I’ve already been to Europe and Florida. I’ve spent time with wonderful friends and my precious family. I’ve sang in some of the most beautiful churches on the earth, gotten the chance to minister to people through music, built lifelong friendships, and learned to appreciate my family so much in the past two weeks.

And the best part is…

this is only the beginning.

My summer hasn’t even gone into full swing yet. I’m hoping to work a couple of summer jobs: a couple of clothing stores, some babysitting here and there, and maybe even a new job as a barista for Starbucks?! The possibilities for summer work are all around me, so it’s time to just stop being lazy and get out there and work. Lord knows I need to make back a good chunk of the money I spent on my vacations and make some money for some future trips and events I’d like to participate in soon.

A road trip to visit my cousin while she’s in summer school is in the horizon, as well a possible trip to Australia in August to visit my best friend who’s studying abroad there for 5 months. Who knows?! Either way, I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on my whereabouts and interesting things that happen this summer.

I’m planning on making some unforgettable memories, in fact I’d say I’m already halfway there, so how are you going to make the most of your summer?

Miami, Florida

Once I got back home from Europe, I had a day to wash clothes and repack for a quick mini family vacation to Florida!

I just got back today and it was great to spend time with the family and just relax. It was one more chance to escape reality before summer jobs and chores around the house begin to consume my summer schedule.

We arrived on Friday and went to the beach to catch some sun. Mom claims that I get dark too easily, so she forces me to sit under an umbrella. It’s ok though, I mean I am naturally pretty tan anyway. lol It’s only fair I let her catch up. Then we went out for dinner and relaxed by the pool til it was time to go to bed. The next day we got to go to Billie’s Swamp Safari. Out in the boonies of Florida, there is an Indian reservation and swamplands that have been turned into a tourist destination. We got on an airboat that drove us around the swamp. We saw tons of alligators and other critters. It was pretty neat and apparently the show Swamp Men is taped in the very swamplands that we got to explore. We also took a safari out into the land and saw tons of buffalo, pigs, horses, and antelope. It was really neat to see nature a little more up close and personal.

Our last day we went down to South Beach. It was pretty awesome. A lot of mainstream artists were in Miami for the weekend so there were parties all along the beach. But since we were on a family vacation, we all behaved ourselves. ha. We did have a good time on our on though just soaking up the sun, getting to talk as a family, and just enjoy each other’s company.

All in all, I’d say that we had a great mini vacation. It is truly such a blessing being able to travel like I do. I’m so blessed to have both of my parents work in the travel industry. Even if you can’t afford an extravagant trip, I highly recommend getting out there and exploring places other than your home. I’ve found that you can learn so much about other cultures, different types of people, and even learn more about yourself, when you travel.

Random Moment in Europe

While we were in the beautiful city of Salzburg (place of everything Mozart), a couple of friends and I ran into a college choir from Catawba College North Carolina. Words cannot express how exciting it was to finally run into people who spoke English and were from around the same area as a majority of us in Choraleers. ha. The group had just come from Switzerland, Paris, and I believe England as well, so Germany was their last stop.

We ran into them right on time too. As we were walking, some friends and I noticed singing and when we figured out it wasn’t other people from our group we went to check it out. I’m so glad we did because it was cool to make some new friends through a common love for singing and music! We heard them sing and then this other group of men from Macedonia joined in and sang some songs. Unfortunately we didn’t have our whole choir with us or even enough to sing a selection but we did just kind of mess around with some current pop songs with them. It was pretty fun.

I have a feeling that these random moments in Europe are going to be some of the best memories of the entire trip. =D


It’s one thing learning about something like the holocaust and nazis and concentration camps in a classroom, but it’s a totally different thing experiencing history where it actually occurred. While in Austria for choir tour, the group and I visited the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and it was quite an experience.

For once, our whole group was completely silent. We all had our audio guides up to our ear and walked around each site as we heard the gruesome details of what actually occurred behind those brick walls. It’s scary to think about the thousands upon thousands of people that suffered at the very grounds we were walking upon.

One of the first places I made my way to was the rock quarry. After walking down almost 200 jagged steps, I made it down to the fields where prisoners would have to break up rocks so they could help build their own prison. Striped shirts with only a number sewed to it for identification purposes served as the uniform for the countless men who made the dreaded climb up the stairs with rocks upon their backs. Many of them were forced to wear wooden shoes instead of work boots. This caused them to form awful blisters and many people died trying to make it up and down those stairs. At the very top was a ledge where soldiers would tease prisoners and push them, yelling “Hope you can fly!” and other obscenities.

After that, I made my way into the camp. Upon first sight all you see are rows of cabins. From the outside the buildings look like cabins you’d see at a summer camp, but once inside the tiny bunks and dirty walls and shut up windows make your mind start to wander. People didn’t live comfortably. The prisons were overflowing with people so there would be 5-6 people to a bed at times. Showers were pretty much non-existent. They lived in their own filth. Disease spread like wild fire. They were underfed, overworked, and stripped of human dignity.

The final place I visited was the gas chambers. Talk about being speechless. All I could do was heavily sigh, cry, and shake my head. Prisoners thought they were finally getting a chance to shower and instead they were piled into rooms like pigs getting ready to go to the slaughterhouse. Gas was their poison as soldiers stood outside and watched through a peephole. A dissecting table lay in a isolated room for those prisoners marked with tattoos. Doctors were told to cut pieces of their skin off that were marked with interesting tattoos so that the skin could be made into various accessories for the soldiers. Crowns were yanked out of prisoner’s mouths. Once they were stripped of such they were horrendously killed.

Humans did all of that…to one another. Disgusting isn’t it? Humans are capable of such evil and the sad thing is that we still do the same things today. We ostracize one another because of the color of our skin or because of our social status or because of generations before us that have sowed feelings of hate deep in our souls. History shouldn’t be repeated, but as people we still haven’t fully learned our lesson. Though we may not put people in concentration camps, we still paralyze people with fear, we cripple people’s spirits, and we crush people’s dreams, when we don’t treat one another as equals.

Summertime = Mountains

For me, the summer is about to begin for real.  Until this point, I have been living at home and bound by few responsibilities, but this afternoon I drove four hours up to my summer home-away-from-home: Bonclarken.

Prior to going to Erskine, I had never heard of this wonderful little place up in the mountains.  Prior to working here, I had only visited twice, for the winter retreat that Erskine has organized for the past few years in January.  However, after working and living here all last summer, I have come to love Bonclarken dearly.

I work in the office up here, but there is a whole group of us – mostly college students – who stay every year for the summer and work.  There is a recreation staff (Rec), guest services, and some food service workers, and we all live in two little buildings.  Part of the great experience is living with the people you work with; this means that you really get to know them.  Granted, most of the student workers go to or graduated from Erskine, so we all kind of know each other to begin with, but then you just get to know them in a whole new way.

Sunset on the lake at Bonclarken last summer, after spending the afternoon reading... ah, summer.

Sunset on the lake at Bonclarken last summer, after spending the afternoon reading... ah, summer.

Because we have no commute time, most meals are provided, and we all live together, we do a lot of things with each other outside of work, as well.  There are always lots of movies, excursions, activities around Bonclarken, and I think the guys have even set up a video game room in their building this year!  Plus, because we are in the mountains I love to spend time outside, going for walks, hiking, reading on the lake, or even just going downtown and poking around the little shops – it is definitely a great place to spend the summer!

The work is good, the location is beautiful, the people are so nice, there is lots of fun to be had, and it is a community of Christians. . . the summer is starting for real tomorrow when I go in for my first day of work, and I am looking forward to another rewarding few months, making memories and enjoying it all.

O Light Everlasting

First night in Prague and we’ve already had quite the day as you can see from the previous pictures.

But the highlight of my day was hands down singing for a group of mentally disabled people staying at our hotel.

The Lord knows the exact time and place for ministry. He uses those special spontaneous moments to bless those around you and to bless yourselves. After dinner that first night, I was truly touched. The people we sang for had such a joy and love for people  and music. They sang along with us and even performed some of their own songs for us after we were through. The passion on their faces as they sang truly touched my heart. That is quality music –  when you get so lost in the words and you feel what the people performing the song are feeling. That is true ministry.

We all walked in ready to sing and minister to them and in turn I think they ended up showing us a thing or two about true, passionate, music ministry.