{13 april 2014}

When I think about my childhood Sundays I don’t remember the alleged fights about panty hose and shoes that didn’t fit right. I remember Strawberry milk and a doughnut and a big church van. I remember seat-belt checks and knocking on the door of Ms. Mattye Bowman and asking her questions the entire ride to church.

And I think about how my dad treated each person we picked up on our way to church. How he would call the men “boss,” even though I was quiet sure they didn’t work together- and how he would assist the women only if they wanted it, never rushing them. How he never robbed a single person of their dignity when he offered out his hand.  I didn’t know it then, but my dad was a Plainsman.

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.

I’m older now.
Half the world away, and I walk to church- I walk almost everywhere.  But I haven’t forgotten those rides to Fairview, or the lessons I didn’t know I was learning at the time

So this week when the widow scoffed at our offer to help with housework I wasn’t offended. Pain can hide from every body part except the eyes-

When she rambled off instructions in Romanian, pointing and charade-ing around I smiled that much bigger. Fear can make you mask a lot of emotion-

And when she insisted we hurry because she would be cold sitting in the kitchen waiting for us to finish I winked to our translator. Lonely can look like a lot of things-

As I dusted and washed and swept, I wondered.
Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetI wondered what stories she would tell me if we were to walk to church together one Sunday. I admired the photograph on the wall- the one that when removed revealed the original wall color perfectly preserved behind the only art to adorn the house. Her wedding portrait.

I prayed for common ground.

We finished, not without her input and final instructions of course. And when she sat on the bed, we joined her. She wasn’t expecting that, she wasn’t prepared. But when hope is lost, hurt is rarely prepared for anything but more hurt.

Kari Anna took her hands and held them..
Gently, but with promise-

Then we learned, she was a nurse…
Just like Kari Anna.

They sat hand in hand, talking medical…
I stared at the wedding photograph.

And as I stared and imagined the vows she pledged on that day, I witnessed the creed  lived out.  Human touch brought about healing of unspoken hurt.  Touch that offered dignity and autonomy.

As often as my flesh makes me stumble, in that moment and the ones to follow I couldn’t help but think it a wonderful thing.

“Because this is what I know: each one of us was created on purpose and for a purpose, and it’s worth taking the time to ask a million questions: how can I use what God’s given me to make the world better, brighter, more beautiful in this season? And now in this one? And now in this one? “

Shauna Niequist

{truth for the trekking}

I’m about a chapter in to Jenni Catron’s, CLOUT.
It only took the woman about three pages to officially make it onto my, “Women I’d like to have coffee with” list*. Yes, I have a list for that… don’t act so surprised.

Reading this book during this now has been serendipitous.
The right words for the right season.

Growing up, my dad had a saying:: “If I tell you a chicken can pull a locomotive… you hook it up.” In other words, don’t ask questions just believe me.

I shared earlier this week (as in, ya know… two days ago) my current adventure in trust and hope and peace…. In other words, not being afraid. In Catron’s opening chapter she identifies the 7 Clout Killers and addresses the thing so often stopping us from living out our God given influence. Fear.

I can appreciate my father’s words. He is a man of honor and love and integrity. I trust him- I am a through and through daddy’s girl and would search for a chicken before the words were out of his mouth if the time came. And yet…

I’m glad {in this single instance} the words of my father aren’t those of God.

Catron wastes no time addressing fear and naming truth. More specifically, naming God’s truth.
Her words were water to a thirsty racer-

We know how fear affects us. We acknowledge the darkness, isolation, and inactivity that accompany it, but how do we over- come it? We read all the “do not be afraid” scriptures and are more likely to feel guilt for not having the faith to overcome it than find peace in those statements.

But take another look at every time God says, “Do not be afraid.” Notice that his message doesn’t end there. Behind every statement he gives us a reason why we shouldn’t fear. “Do not be afraid” technically should be enough because he is God. But he knew that our fears need to be replaced with strong promises. We need to replace fear with truth. Listen to the statements of truth that followed “do not be afraid . . .”

I am your shield, / your very great reward. (Gen. 15.1)
God has heard. (Genesis. 21.17)
for I am with you. (Isaiah 41.10)
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1.9)
you have found favor with God. (Luke 1.30)

[emphasis added]

May I be so vulnerable to admit, I’ve been missing the promises of God in His command to not be afraid for 24 years?

Reading these words this week, I was ushered by Catron into a deeper awe for The Father.   A Father who owes no explanation to me- a Father I revere, a Father so Holy I would perish if I fully understood Him. And yet, He promises me.- shelter, a listening ear, favor, to be near. His ways are not our ways.

My words fail to describe the known-ness I experienced in these statements.
I let out an audible, “praise the lamb” at the revelation. Praise The Lamb I will not live another day without knowing this truth.

What truth has been rocking your socks lately?

 

*according to her twitter bio, Jenni would prefer tea to coffee- but she stays on the list!

Catron, Jenni. Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-given Influence. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014. Print.

{7 april 2014}

I’m of the belief that life consists of endless metaphoric trails- only we call them lessons.  And when we believe we should have completed a trail, or learned a lesson already, we throw our hands up and cry “woe is me.”  We might even write a blog post about said trail and invite others to grieve with us the fact that we never really learn on this side of glory.

When you return to the the [trail], you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started- Henri J.M. Nouwen

Something’s been bugging me lately, where did we get the idea that when we “re-learn” a lesson we are starting from the beginning?  Where was this falseness birthed?  This lie of all previous learning being void when a theme you’ve already experienced in life is repeated?

I’m currently on the metaphoric trail of “trust and hope and peace.”  Its a very long name for a very long trail apparently.  Exploring the depths of my disbelief and anxieties and calling out for His mercies daily hourly.

There has been some reoccurring scenery on this trust, hope, peace trail- some saddles and tree lines I’d swear I’ve seen before.  Or maybe that’s just my pride remembering… a silent, insistent, “I know, I know” inside my mind.

But the truth is- I’ve never been here before.  I’ve never made it to this part of the mountain before.  And the trail demands to be treated as such.

y5PebE9X4gWjQetKr9YiwT4WBnyPDCg8PsIxT_rOirM - CopyThis trail of trust and hope and peace.
It requires me calling upon all I gathered a few months ago on the “Wisdom” trail.  It expects I navigate using truth, it assumes I know not to travel this trail alone.  It deserves my respect, my attentiveness, and my humility.

This trail has been walked by others before me- a million times.

It has been talked about by scholars and pastors and written on extensively by poets and authors.  And they’ve left clues along the way, advice and words I am grateful for.  But the thing about climbing mountains and walking metaphoric trails is this… you have to do it yourself.

Hearing someone tell me about the view from Table Top Mountain is not the same as seeing it for myself.  As much detail as could ever be included in the retelling of the journey, hearing a story will not make the adventure my own.  It’s the same with lessons- someone else’s learning does not instill the same modified behavior or knowing into me.

I must walk this trail of trust and hope and peace for myself.  I must learn to trust and hope and have peace in my own right.  Building on where I’ve walked before, what I’ve learned before and what I’ve learned from others.

And in walking and learning I will most definitely diverge from the trail.  I will become distracted by another lesson, another view point, a new opportunity.  Taking with me all that I’ve learned up to that point- but I will also most definitely return to this trail.  Because I will never learn all that is possible on this side of glory.

But when I inevitably return to this trail of learning trust and hope and peace, I will take heart knowing all learning is not lost.  And your learning isn’t lost either.  Whatever trail you’re trekking, keep on with delight.  You’re not where you started, you’re right where you’re supposed to be.  

{I always knew I liked Armani}

I have never lived without clean water.
Let me repeat, just in case you didn’t read-
I have never lived without clean water.

This is written from the perspective of an outsider.
From the viewpoint of someone who’s been given the opportunity to go without.
It has always been a choice- a gift.

If you’ve kept up with this blog at all, you know my race route has included urban-ness, Starbucks, H&Ms, and no tents. So it basically makes me the most unqualified racer to write this post… except, you may also remember, I’m easily passionate-able.

One of my past passions “Clean Water” was re-sparked last week with news of the UNICEF Tap Project. Now, not having reliable wifi- I was about a month late on joining the bandwagon but that didn’t stop me from getting excited.

The project, sponsored by Armani, is simple.
For every ten minutes you don’t “tap” your phone you provide a day of clean water for a child without access. So simple, so brilliant.

I remember UNICEF as the organization we used to collect change for on Wednesday nights as a child. But last week, I participated as an adult… and I’m so happy I did. While getting ready for my birthday dinner I set my iPod on the bed- it works the same as participating on your phone- and started raising money for children to have clean water.

UNICEF Tap Project is working to help the 768 million people around the world without access to clean water. This year you can help by taking a challenge to give up access to something far less vital than water–your cell phone.

For every 10 minutes you don’t touch your phone, our sponsor can provide one day of clean water for a child in need.”

imageThe website is interactive without requiring “taps” meaning every few seconds or so a fact will show up on the screen- I got very competitive when I saw Sofia was in 280th place for providing clean water. As the birthday dinner prepping continued so did the water providing. By the time we were walking out the door, Sofia was in 277th place! what what?!

On the race we have a food budget. It’s stayed at about $4usd a day- including “water budget.” Although I’ve never had to pump a well, or walk more than a mile to retrieve clean water- finding it despite the urban-ness and the Starbucks within budget is a pain. Full disclosure, I often resort to using personal money.

I cannot pretend to understand what it would look like to not know where or how I would pay for this most important element of life. 

During my birthday dinner all phones stayed down.
ells un-tapped so that wells may be.
It was the smallest of efforts, but an effort nonetheless.

Seriously friends- participate.

know of another innovative way of doing good?  comment below so I can join you in your efforts!

 

{happy birthday me}

Last friday we celebrated my 24th birthday.  We celebrated early because my actual birthday took place on a travel day.  And by travel day- I mean an overnight bus ride from Sofia to Bucharest…

I celebrated entering into my mid-twenties with equal parts excitement and nostalgia.  Twenty-three was really great, and I have high hopes for twenty-four… but when you’re living an adventure like the race where the ordinary (free bathrooms, clean drinking water, understanding people) is rare and extraordinary when it happens, you sort of long for normalcy when it comes to the special.

Three years ago my mom started the tradition of yellow tulips for my birthday.  She’s a good one my mom… I mentioned this tradition to a teammate earlier in the month but honestly didn’t think much of it.  So when said teammate showed up to dinner with yellow tulips tied with an Auburn ribbon I was speechless… 

yellow tulips

^^Tulips were the perfect bit of ‘home’ short of my momma actually being able to be here.  ((which she will be in twenty-two days so there’s that))

When my actual birthday came around… I did the unthinkable.  I traveled on an overnight bus with those tulips.  Something I never would have been brave enough to do months one through four.  But there was no way I was leaving those lovelies behind, and they’ll make another two-hour trip with me tomorrow to our ministry site  for month eight.  Here’s to even more bravery in twenty-four eh?

Each birthday serves as a landmark.
A measurement of sorts- every year I am blessed with more to be thankful for, more love to measure, and more to learn.

What are your favorite birthday traditions?

“Maybe this year will be the year of desire fulfilled. Perhaps, on the other hand, it will be the year of desire radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have perhaps not yet truly found, Christ to be the All-Sufficient One, Christ the ‘deep sweet well of love’.”
— Elisabeth Elliot

{what I learned from twenty-three}

I met some incredible people being twenty-three.
And I said some incredibly hard goodbyes.
I learned that both hello and goodbye require grace.

I learned coffee is best enjoyed when it’s made in a percolator over open fire.*
And being part of building the fire is just as important as enjoying the coffee.

I learned my favorite afternoons are spent in hammocks.
Reading, dreaming, praying, asking questions, and listening.

These things were important, they shaped me into who I am-
and who I’ll be at twenty four [and five, and six and seven and eight…]

But more important than these…
I learned at twenty-three how to be alone.
How to walk on my own, and like it.

 

 *if coffee can’t be made over a fire- it should be served by a man with an impeccable beard and more tattoos than your father would approve of.