just calm down.

i have been struggling to write a blog for weeks.  in fact, i’ve started about eight different ones with the exact same sentiment.  they are still sitting on my desktop, half started.  i don’t why it’s been so difficult for me, lately.  i’ll blame it on the dreary weather.  it’s been dark and rainy.  but, the sun is trying to shine through today.  amidst the clouds, it’s peeking out.  so, despite the fact that i feel like i have so much to say and  nothing all at the same time – something is getting posted.  for all six of you to read.

we’re in another season of transition down here.  i’m beginning to wonder how long a season can really last – or if at some point, that’s just the way things are.  either way, things have changed and continue to do so.  for me, when there is a positional shift in a place, it naturally makes me wonder how it will affect the relationships i cherish.  i don’t really have answers to that question.  but i’m more confident in this community that i belong to then i ever have been.  i’m confident that we’re all in this together; good and bad, messy and put together.  we’re all here.  in the spirit, we’re knit together in a weird, supernatural way.  i used to be really afraid of these kinds of relationships because i was afraid they might go away someday.  my fear of what may or not happen on the back end of something kept me from blessings at the onset.  i’m not so afraid, anymore.  i wonder, sometimes.  but i think i can wonder without being afraid.

i’m doing a lot of pondering these days.  which can be both healthy and dangerous for me.  it’s easy to get excited about things, begin to dream up new ideas and possibilities.  it’s also really easy for me to look at the enormity that is life and get all super serious, contemplating the deep things of how the world works, why i’m on it, how there can be both good and evil, sorrow and joy.  it’s all very important to ponder.  but i go into debbie downer mode pretty quick, convinced that the world is, in fact, going to hell in a hand basket.  my insides get all dramatic and the voice-over guy in my head comes on.  oh, you don’t have a guy that does voice-overs in your life?  i do.  he probably works part time as a radio-show host.  he gets super dramatic on me with life lessons and how i need ot find significance in the flower petal that just fell to the ground.  it’s like life goes into slow motion until i slap myself.

but then i slap myself out of it.  stand on some furniture to, one more time, remind myself that god is good.  always.  that’s usually the cycle of my pondering.

my sweet friend caroline gave a really great word on monday at church.  yes, i go to church on monday.  there’s a chance we meet in a restaurant.  okay, fine. it’s a bar.  well, it has a bar.  and yes, women preach at my church.  young women.  and do you know what?  it’s the best church i’ve ever been to.  the worship is incredible, the teaching solid, and the people life-giving, honorable, and sincere.  i love my church in a bar.  whew.  now that that’s all out in the open….

so, caroline preached on how we need to rest.  about how when we find a deep place of rest and assurance in who God is the circumstances around us don’t really matter.  we can stop spinning and spinning and spinning and just stand with solidarity.  what i heard the lord saying through her was, “just calm down.”  so, i’m working on that.  calming down, knowing that it’s all under control.  the lord has it in his hand.  all of it.  remembering that can be hard.  especially in the midst of change, in the midst of watching people hurt, in the middle of confusion and chaos.  my thoughts and emotions go all haywire.  i get really riled up.  and right now, in the middle of it, the lord [and probably some of the people around me] are saying, “just calm down.  it’s all going to be okay.”

so, i’ll just be over here.  tea in hand, calming down.

unreconciled.

i have always been a good multi-tasker.  when i’m on a mission i move a million miles a minute and practically run over people who aren’t moving fast enough for me.  i always have multiple screens open on my computer.  i was so the girl texting during class while simultaneously taking notes and chatting with someone next to me.  i skype people and check my email during meetings.  my brain almost never shuts off.  and it works for me.

but.  i am a terrible multi-emotion-all-at-once-haver.  yes, it’s a real thing.

i cannot for the life of me figure out how to reconcile different emotions together.  which, on a general day to day basis isn’t normally a problem.  until disaster strikes and everything goes haywire and there are so many things happening that i don’t know what to do with myself.

today is one of those days where emotions have been amplified and there are so many things going on that i am totally and completely unreconciled.

i don’t understand how the lord can exist in both life and death. in celebration and in grieving.  in new and old; in pain and in joy.  i don’t understand how justice and redemption and restoration works in the middle of circumstances that seem so unfair.

i feel a little more grown up this week as i’ve watched from a distance a dear friend lose someone she loves.  i’ve coupled that with the news that my sister is in labor, about to bring forth life and give me my first niece.  funny how even in bringing forth life there is still so much struggle.

it’s easy to see the lord in the happy things.  it’s not so easy to see him in chaos and disorder.  its not easy for me to find him in the deaths and tragedies.  the tension of finding a good God in the midst of terrible circumstances isn’t something i’ve figured out.  at all.  i find myself smack dab in the middle of asking a lot of questions.  questions i’ve asked before but seem just a bit more pressing these days.  questions that are, once again, forcing me to wrestle down the things i think i know and fight for the answers i don’t yet have.  i’m okay with the questions and i know that the lord is big enough to handle them.  he isn’t moved by my unknowing and i’ve found comfort in the freedom to ask without hesitation or fear.  but as free as i am to ask them, today that isn’t offering much comfort.  and asking a lot of questions from the comfort and safety of my cozy, peaceful home seems futile.

today, i desperately want my friend to not be hurting.  i want people’s hearts to be full, not broken.  today i would like it if i could understand why some things happen or don’t happen.  i wish i could be okay with the fact that life isn’t fair and believe wholeheartedly that god is still good in the middle of it.  today i want to be able to do more than pray for people and hope it means something.

mostly today i just need the lord to be present.  not even so much with me, i just need to know he’s present with them.  to know he’s present with the hurting and with the rejoicing.  and that he’s at the funerals and in the delivery room.  i need to know that he’s with the mourners and those rejoicing.  i need him to remind me that he’s always with us in the struggle and that somehow, at the end of it all, life will come.

73 days between posts? blogger fail.

i logged into my blog this morning to write a quick little update.  i thought it had been a few weeks since i’d filled you in on my super exciting life.  then i realized my last post was july 28th.  wowzas.  sorry ’bout that.

let’s see if i can catch you up on the last few months.  they’ve been filled with road trips and weddings and events that have been good for my spirit and completely exhausting at the same time.  for some reason i thought that when summer ended things would slow down.  now i find myself nine days into october and there isn’t much of a break on the horizon.  thanksgiving might bring a lull.  maybe.  but i’ve learned to make the most of the quiet moments i do have while doing my best to embrace the chaos when it comes.  i’m still perfecting the art of learning to be quiet in the midst of the noise.  even so, i’m happy and content and beyond blessed by the life i live.  no complaints from this girl.  at least not today.

this morning i find myself in my perfect yellow chair i picked up from an antique store.  i’m sipping coffee next to my open window.  the air is cool and the cinnamon candle burning reminds me that fall is in the air.  last night i had dinner with some dear friends and rested while they worshipped.  their songs were transferred to my computer and are serving as church today.  it’s a good day to enjoy the small things that often times get lost in my busy schedule of relationships, responsibilities and the whole changing-the-world-thing i’m working on.

so while i’m enjoying the smaller things in life today you can get caught up on where i’ve been and what i’ve been doing.  if you promise to get yourself up to speed on my life i’ll promise to not go seventy three days without an update.  ever again.  really.  promise.

at the beginning of august i trekked thirteen hours with kelly and jordan up to chicago for the jesus culture awakening conference.  my bff met us up there, so it was great to spend some time with her, too.  we were unaware that the conference would mostly be filled with thousands of high schoolers but enjoyed it nonetheless.

a few of us spent one of the last days of summer at the river.  we hiked and swam and a few brave souls jumped off a cliff.  it was fun day of adventure that will definitely need to be replicated.

my co-worker robby and i had the privilege of spending a week at mississippi college for their mission fair.  we met with all kinds of incredible students, shared with them about the passport and about our own experiences on the world race.  we were tired by the time we got home, but really enjoyed our time with them.

the last few months have also included a world race reunion/conference, watching my friend and co-worker weston tie the knot, nights in the hammock, a staff picnic, and a trip to florida for my world race teammate’s wedding.

well, i think that pretty much gets you up to speed.  hoping your sunday is lovely.

she taught me how to run.

i’ve been in a reflective mood lately.  it’s probably all of the nostalgia of training camps and the whole ‘being home one year’ thing.  maybe it has something to do with the places the lord has been taking me in my own heart lately.  anyways.  i’ve just been thinking a lot.  thinking about how things have happened in my life, the people that have been around, what god has done.

last week i got to see some dear friends in atlanta, which got me reflecting on these friends and what they’ve meant in my life.
i met coach lacy when i was twelve years old.  i walked into kennedy middle school the “new girl.”  i was scared, shy and all kinds of awkward.  over the next few years i had a few classes with her.  she taught my aerobics class, my multi-media classes and coached volleyball.  volleyball was definitely not for me.  but i think maybe my knack for media started in her class.  i remember how in our aerobics class we’d take friday’s off to have “girl talk.”  we could write down secret questions and she’d answer them.  she shared parts of her life with a room-ful of girls in hopes that we might learn something about  ourselves and about life.  apparently i did. she was the teacher everyone wanted to have and the kind of person everyone wanted to be.

 i always admired her.
eventually i hit the milestone of eighth-grade graduation and moved up to high school. she coached track there, so it was then that our relationship really began to blossom.  i started babysitting for her girls; kelsey was just six or seven and bailey was still in a crib.  at first i’d just spend a friday or saturday night hanging out with the girls, watching bring it on and having killer dance parties.  somehow, though, as time went on i found myself with them more and more.  by my sophomore year i was spending afternoons and evenings in the lacy home multiple times a week.  i ate dinner with them and attended family functions.  i found myself immersed into their lives and into their family.
looking back, i can recognize that i was so drawn to them because it was the only place i really felt safe.  in so many ways it was the only refuge i had from the mess at home and my chaotic, dramatic, ever-changing teenage life.

coach lacy taught me how to run. she always challenged me to do better and to be better.  running away was never an option.  making excuses was never an option.  at an early age, out of necessity, she taught me to run straight into whatever life was throwing at me and to make a decision on what i was going to do with it.  she expected great things from me.  but she was always proud of me.  and she never hesitated to express it.  i remember the first time i ran a sub-six mile.  she ran back and forth my whole race, spurring me on.  when i crossed the finish line she was there, crying with arms open.  she saw good in me when i was blind to it.  she loved me well.
she threw me a surprise birthday party when i turned sixteen.  she braided my hair for track meets and sat with me on bus rides.  she often cooked me my favorite meal [grilled salmon and cheesy green beans for anyone out there wanting to get on my good side].  she hugged me. she got me out of class to have mid-day snack breaks.  she stayed up late with me and taught me about life as we ate nachos and watched golden girls.  we ate ice cream for dinner and went to tcby almost every week for waffle cone wednesday.  she drove across town to pick me up when i called in the middle of the night and she was there when i felt like my life was literally crumbling around me.
when i moved across the state at the beginning of my junior year she kept in touch. the emails and the phone calls still came.  she never forgot about me.  she drove through a snow-storm to watch me be on homecoming court my senior year.  and she drove back to watch me graduate.

she has been every example of friendship, sacrifice, and hospitality that i could ever hope to display.  as the years pass by, coach lacy and her family will continue have a special place in my heart.  we’ve laughed too many laughs and cried too many tears for it to ever go away.  i have always loved and appreciated the role she’s played in my life.  it was never something i took for granted.  but in the past week or so i have just been so overwhelmed by what her presence in my life really meant.  i absolutely believe i am who i am today in large part because she took a chance on me.

she loved me and took care of me when no one else would [or could].  she helped me move, in some ways, from being a kid stuck in sucky circumstances into being a capable woman, the world at my fingertips.

embedded residue. i’ve been home one year.

well.  it’s official.  i can no longer start a sentence with “last year on the world race…”  i’ve been on american soil for three hundred and sixty five days. [minus the week-long stint in ireland last fall].  whoa.  deep breath.

i landed in lax sometime in the afternoon a year ago.  the lady looked at my passport and said “you’ve been gone for quite some time.  welcome home.” to which i offered a fake smile as i fought back tears.  then i stood in customs for three hours before finally walking out into american civilization.  i spent the evening with my world race bff’s before hopping on a red-eye back to missouri.

i walked off of a plane in springfield and hugged my family.  we drove home.  the first thing i did was try on an old pair of jeans to make sure they still fit.  then i took a nap.  we ate lasagna for dinner.  and normal life just kind of began again.

countless times over the last year when i have thought back to my time on the world race i’ve  felt like it was nothing more than a dream.  a crazy adventure that just kind of happened but it wasn’t real.  except that it was real.  so real, in fact, that the residue is still on me.  not the africa dirt and asia smell.  but the residue of the things i saw.  the prayers i prayed and people i met.  the residue of feelings i felt and dreams i dared to dream.  it’s still on me, the glory of it all.

in fact, it’s just being embedded deeper and deeper into who i am.

i spent three weeks at home.  mostly i tried to catch up with the friends and family i had missed for eleven months.  i ate a lot of food and drank a lot of coffee.  i packed up my life and drove to georgia, where i’ve spent the last eleven months on a brand new adventure and at the same time discovering a new kind of normal.

my first few months in georgia were mostly spent in tears.  i cried because i was lonely.  i cried because i missed being on the field.  i missed holding babies and praying for sick people.  i cried because i had no plan.  i cried because i had absolutely no idea how to do my job.  sometimes i cried because it was the only thing i knew to do in the midst of trying to process and re-enter to so many things.  but, over the months, slowly but surely the tears have become fewer and farther between.  i promise.  ask allison.

i’ve become somewhat settled.  in gainesville, yes.  but mostly in my spirit.  i’ve got a bit of handle on why i’m here.  i’m not so lonely anymore. and i’ve figured some things out about my job.  i feel like i’ve processed the things i’ve seen; even though i still miss the african babies.  i guess i don’t really have a plan.  but i don’t feel like i really need one right now, so that’s refreshing.

anyways.  a lot has happened in the last year.  a lot of good things and a lot of hard things.  some broken places have been exposed and some other broken places have been healed.  i’m more whole than i was a year ago.  i’m more confident and hopeful than i was a year ago.  i’m definitely more free than i was year ago. and i am so much more thankful thank i was a year ago.

i’m thankful for the journey of the world race.  i’m thankful for the journey the last eleven months in georgia have been.  as thankful as i am for the past, i want to be the kind of person who looks ahead to the future with hope and great expectation.  there’s really no telling what’s in store for the next three hundred and sixty five days.  but my prayer is that the residue of my past journeys would become more deeply embedded as i set my eyes and heart towards the journey ahead.

with that.  enjoy the video i made of our world race journey.

happy home-one-year-aversary k-squad.

dear college me.

we put this little video together for real life campaign we’re running.  i promise it’s well worth your two minutes.  take a gander and then read what i’d say to my college self.

 

dear college me,

i know it hasn’t really been that long since you were wandering the sidewalks of good ‘ol evangel, but a lot of things have changed. things are pretty different over here. and you. well, you’re real different over here.

don’t worry so much about the future. it’ll work itself out. taking that first mission trip to jamaica will affect you forever. what you experience there will catapult you into a destiny you couldn’t dream of on your own. friendship takes work. especially when you’re on different continents. learn to fight for relationships now. you had a lot of opportunities in four years. and you took most of them. way to go, champ. forgive more. have more grace. especially with yourself. because you’ll spend a lot of time after college learning how to receive grace. real grace. the messy, scary kind that you’ve never really known before. it will be new territory for you. but you’ll learn that those people really do love you. and that jesus, he really loves you, too.

take more risks. it’s okay that you didn’t graduate with a 4.0. i promise no one will ever care. don’t try so hard to be perfect. learn how to fail and embrace your imperfections. chopping your hair off was a brilliant idea. and dying it brown on a whim after that, ehem, one situation, was a good move. way to be bold.

dear college me, you’ll travel the world. really. you will circumnavigate the whole thing over the course of eleven months. i know everyone is telling you it’s absurd to live out of a backpack for a year and that you’re not exactly the world-traveler-roughin’-it-missionary type. don’t listen to them. you’ll do just fine as a world racer, i promise.

in fact, despite all of the hard stuff you’ll walk through in those eleven months there will be something beautiful about the whole thing. something that will deeply attract you to a tribe of people in gainesville, georgia. so when you return to the states you’ll pack up your life and move south. you’ll raise your own salary to be in charge of marketing mission trips to high school and college students. you’ll spend a few months freaking out about the whole ‘being back in america’ thing. and it might take you a minute to find your place but you’ll discover that you love it down in georgia. the whole “marketing-for-jesus-behind-a-desk-among-a-group-of people-you-love” bit fits you nicely. you’re more thankful than you could have ever imagined.

dear college me, i want you to know that things are good over here. you’re good over here. there’s still work to do, but your more whole, more alive, and more happy than you could have dreamed. your life is abundant and your heart is full.

so, what would you say to your college self?

grateful. no, really.

nothing is ever good enough for me.  ever.

that is a statement that i have absolutely let define me over the years.  it’s something that was spoken over me over and over and over growing up.  ungrateful.  nothing is ever good enough.  it has shaped and molded the way i see myself, the world and most importantly, the Lord.

it wasn’t until recently that i even realized what a stronghold that lie has been.  it’s only been in the few weeks that the Lord has been revealing to me the gravity of it and the way that it has affected so many areas of my life.

tonight i was sitting in an all-too familiar training center at the aim headquarters.  listening to my dear friend give a talk i’ve heard at least a dozen times.  almost thirty leaders showed up this afternoon for a few days of training before over 200 college kids will get sent out to the nations next week. for two months they will serve the world.

as i was sitting there listening to kelly tell stories about past participants she told stories about how their lives were changed.  stories about how a man in africa woke up out of a coma because a real life team prayed for him.  she told the story of a participant who overcame an eating disorder and a drug addiction; whose life was transformed by the power and grace of God.  she told stories about how it rained in kenya when our participants prayed and massai warriors were saved as a result.  she spoke about how she believes wholeheartedly that these participants will change the course of history this summer; that lives will never be the same because they were sent out into the darkest of places with a commission to bring light.

as kelly shared more of the vision for real life i found myself about to lose it.

tears streamed down my face as we prayed for the nations, once again, from that place that has become so comfortable and familiar and yet always transitioning and changing.

because for the first time in a really long time i felt absolutely, unreservedly, filled-to-the-brim grateful.

grateful that i get to be a part of the whole thing.  grateful that i had a hand, small as it may have been, in getting over 200 college kids to the mission field.  grateful that of all of the qualified, competent people out there God chose me to partner with Him and with this ministry.  grateful that in the midst of my brokenness and my process and my junk i am surrounded by people who believe in me and who fight for me, especially when i can’t fight for myself.  grateful for the reminder of who i am and whose i am.  grateful that i don’t live under the lies that were spoken over me.  that i am not defined by what i was told or not told. but that i am defined only by what God says about me.  grateful that even though it seems minuscule i maybe might be starting to learn some things.  grateful that even if wake up tomorrow with my sassy pants on, there is grace to cover it.

i don’t know.  maybe it seems silly.  but i’m just really, truly thankful tonight.  for who God is.  for who I’m becoming and for this life i get to live.