i want you to like me.

a few months ago i attended a support raising seminar for work.  they stuff a sixty or so of us missionaries into a conference room, fed us chick-fil-a and stressed the importance of support raising [for jesus].

this weekend, as i was addressing envelopes for my summer newsletter i remembered one of the big suggestions they made.  to make a facebook fan page.  that way you don’t have to friend someone.  they just have to “like” you.  the goal is that it’s an easier, more organized way to keep people centered around one thing.  in this case, my personal support raising.

awesome, right?  i get to ask people to “like” me so that then i can try to convince them to give me money.  for jesus.  not exactly my idea of a good time,  putting myself out there like that.

so, i’ve been putting it off.  because, well, what if i invite 500 people to “like” me and only my grandma responds?  except she’s usually a few weeks behind on facebook anyways…so really NO ONE responds.  an irrational fear?  yes.  maybe.  but a fear nonetheless.

but.  something came over me this morning and i started my official “i’m-a-missionary-please-like-me-and-pray-about-sending-money” fan page.  then i started clicking names, asking people if they would “like” me.  i’m anxious to see how this whole thing goes.

you can “like” me here.  or if you want to bypass that and just send money.  [for jesus.]  you can do that, too.

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?

twenty-four[th] year. update.

remember a few months ago when i made a list of twenty four things i want to do in my twenty fourth year of life?  you’d think by now i’d have a few of those things accomplished.  buuuuuuuuut.  well.  follow-through has never really been my strong suit.
however, i did knock out one last night.
. buy and wear nice pajamas.
twenty four years it took me to get out of my basketball shorts and gross t-shirts. i cannot believe i waited so long.  here’s to new pajamas. and growing up.

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.

summer [about to] happen-ings.

so, we’re about to walk into busy-town over here at aim.  all kinds of goodness is happening and tons of people are being mobilized to the mission field this summer.  it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

i feel like we’ve been talking about it for weeks, so you’d think i’d be prepared.  but, leave it to me.  procrastinate. procrastinate. procrastinate.  i was feeling okay about everything that i need to do but, all of a sudden i just became really overwhelmed by everything happening in the upcoming weeks.  and the amount of things that need to get done.

so, let’s see.  tomorrow is memorial day.  lucky for me the office is closed so i can work on tackling my inbox while simultaneously cleaning my bathroom and preparing my house for the guests that will be in and out all summer.  tuesday our real life leaders come for training camp.  [wahoo!].  friday 200 [holy moly] participants come to join them and we’ll all head to the hills of tennessee.  sunday i’ll leave camp for a wedding back in georgia and then leave right after the ‘nuptials to start a 13-hour trek to missouri to represent AIM at a conference.  we’ll be there until thursday when we’ll make our back to georgia for another two-day conference in hot-lanta.

a week of ambassador [high school] training and sending out and then i’ll head out for a marketing retreat.  right after that i go back to hot-lanta for another conference.  there is also a wedding happening that same weekend – probably need to figure those logistics out.

the last week of june is our second training camp for ambassadors and then we’ll head back out to tennessee for world race/real life immersion camp for six or seven days.

and then.  it will be the middle of july and i will take a nap.  🙂

that pretty much gets you up to speed on my schedule.  i am thrilled about all of the things happening down here and feel so blessed to be a part of it all.  if you could just keep me and the rest of the staff in your prayers that would be great.  some of them have crazier schedules than i do [throw in some international trips and eek!].

i’ll do my best to keep you posted with all the lord is doing as we mobilize over 500 young people to the mission field this summer!