Saturday, March 20, 2010

Part 7: The Letters

*this is a continuation of my Germany Chronicles series, and you should check out the first 6 parts before reading below!

I finally found the folder I needed to finish this journey...

And that year, we would write...

For the group of Texans that went to Germany that summer, our trip was scheduled from July 1st through the 12th.  From what I remember on the night we got back (it was the 13th because of time changes), all I did was sit on my bed with the Downhere cd on repeat in my room.  I was in a daze...and my emotions had not completely caught up with me.  About 2 days earlier, I had been with Matthias physically.  That was before I had to leave him.  And it was before our tragic flight home.  

This was for multiple reasons.  I couldn't seriously believe that the trip was already over.  Was it even real?  I'm sure I must have pinched myself several times.  I wasn't dreaming, right?

Over the next few weeks, several things would be a comfort to me as I tried to get back to my "normal" life.  Whatever that was.  

First of all, my pictures.  After taking the disposable cameras to Walgreens to be developed and actually having to go back to pick the prints up, these objects proved that what happened was, in fact, real.  Second, my music.  Three cds remind me of my journey: Josh Groban's Closer, Warren Barfield's self-titled album, and Downhere's self-titled album.  Thirdly, my stomach could not seem to forget Matthias' touch.  This last one might be silly.  But I was 16...and seriously inexperienced with any kind of contact with the opposite gender.  So, my mind wouldn't really let go of this one.  Fourthly (but it's really first), I had recieved an email on the 10th of July - 2 days before I had even gotten back - from Matthias.  *heart, be still*

I no longer have a digital copy of this first email...but I did print off a copy the night I received it.

It is on this copy I have made my own notes to point out the highlights of what he wrote.  Some of these things went like this:

"I tried so hard to divert myself, but I just can't stop thinking of you..."
"My hands are still shaking as I write this and I think I never felt like this before.  What did you do to me?"  (I probably giggled when I first read that one.)
"I really wished we would have had more time together alone." (he added the bold)
"When you asked me what I wanted from the states, do you know what came to my mind first?  You.  I just didn't dare tell you that then."  (At one point during the trip, I strategically asked him what he might want from the states...and his hesitation was enough to answer the question until I saw this email...)

See?  Now maybe it might make more sense as to why I printed it out...reading it once was simply not enough.

Over the next few months, we wrote back and forth using email and snail mail.  The average time for a real piece of mail to get from one address to the other was about 9 days.  

We wrote of "I miss you" and "I miss you too".  We wrote of vacations.  We spent time talking about what we could officially define our relationship as.  He wrote a lot about how he doesn't write a lot, but that didn't mean he doesn't care.  He just can't think of what to say.  

By August, I was sure I was in love.  Head-over-heals-I'll-move-to-Germany-for-you love.

I had to be careful of who I expressed this fact to.  And to be honest, I can't think of a single person I actually told.  I was afraid people would tell me I was crazy.  I didn't want to hear the things I had heard up until that point: "guard your heart", "it's just not logical", "the age difference is too much", "he lives too far away".

Those conversations went against everything I felt.  Okay, maybe the whole situation wasn't logical.  But really, how can I just tell my heart to stop beating?  It wasn't going to change anything.  

Regardless of how my heart felt, I was quite reserved in my emails and letters.  I spoke with him about how we needed to slow things down - I'm only 16!  And I still 2 more years of high school.  This can't be good to go so fast when we are so far away.  Writing to each other in the way that we had been was quite dangerous.

"I miss you so bad and I feel like you were gone for a year already" (I had been gone a total of 20 days)

"...but you know you can take this as another proof of your beauty and kindness..."

"I'm really missing you badly and praying for you and that God may lead our ways together if it's his will..."

"I can't wait to see you again..."

A few months into it, he mentioned me coming to visit over Christmas and New Year's.  Whoa.  If I had been 23, there would maybe be no question if I could go.  But I was 16, and was sure my parents would deny me the opportunity.  I mentioned it in passing...but I don't think I was actually taken seriously by them.

November approached...our shared birthday month.  I can't remember what I sent him as a present.  But I think I was excited about it because he definitely wrote about how he was excited to receive it...because I had talked about it so much.  

My birthday was about 20 days after his, and I honestly didn't expect anything.  I would have been happy with just a letter telling me happy birthday.  

As it turns out, I did get a letter...

And a piece of his past.
This shows his old drum (the one I now possess) and his new one.

It did indeed arrive broken.  But I don't know how to play the drums, and this gift was better than anything else he could have given me.  It still sits in my room and I will never get rid of it.  When I actually grow up and officially move out of my parent's house, then I will take it with me.  
With his gift, he also sent pictures with great explanations on the backs.

...sorry for the blur...

On my actual birthday, after arriving home from swim practice, the phone of my parents answers the phone (like usual) and then subsequently calls out my name for me to get it.  At this point, I can't think of any person who could be calling me.

I answer. "Hello?"

"Hello, Erin..." 

My heart starts pounding.  It can't be.  No way.  I'm dreaming.  I can't stand up anymore.  Where 's the chair...oh, there it is.  Sit.  BREATHE.  

"Hi...I can't believe it's you..."

He called. On my 17th birthday.  To wish me a happy birthday.  And almost gave me a heart attack in the process.  

It was so fabulous to hear his voice again - the smooth richness of it, his accent - and it seriously felt right.

I don't remember the conversation from that night.  But I remember hanging up feeling as if I was never going to fall asleep again.  

And that night, once I fell asleep, I probably most definitely dreamt of him and his voice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On this Friday...

I slept until 9:30.
I ate breakfast and drank my coffee.
I checked email, twitter, and facebook.
I motivated myself to get started on the "closet purge of highschool-ness".
I found many amusing objects of my past today.

I want to share with you some of the finds:

These are my dad's.  He won it at a men's BBQ event.  And it ended up in my closet.  

Dried Corsages from high school events.  These two are from my senior proms (yes, I went to 2).

These are from various other dances (homecoming one year and a military ball and junior prom).

A Battalion from 2006.
It was about Dr. Gates leaving A&M.

A box of old "boyfriend" stuff.  This box seriously made a few giggles escape.  HA!

SAT study books.  Because every 23-yo needs these after college.

A newspaper from my mom about pharmacists.  She sent this to me while I was still in college - and it ended up under my bed in her house.  Irony.

Good ol' American Girl stuff.  These won't be going anywhere.  They are safely stored back under my bed.

Yes, my mom was concerned about the spiders in my mail box.  She was so considerate!  (sorry it's wouldn't cooperate)

The big letter my orchestra buddies in Georgia made me when I moved to Texas in 8th grade.  Hilarious.

These were a big deal back in '99.  At 13, I wanted nothing more than to fill it completely.  Now, I'm tempted to just take out the quarters that are in there and use them...

You know you swam for 10 years find 2 shoeboxes full of ribbons and another much bigger box devoted to trophies and plaques.

Who would've guessed I'm the proud owner of an iPAQ?!?!  Yeah, I don't even know what it does either.  Maybe that's why it was under my bed...

So there was my exciting day.  It's really funny how you have to make a big mess to clean things out and organize.  My back does not like activities like this...and I've figured out that I do carry my stress in my shoulders.  Does anyone want to give me a good back rub?!  

Nah, it's okay.  I'll just take my anti-inflammatories and lay around the rest of the night.  Now I just have to organize things to go where they need to go.

Any idea what do to with old school stuff?!  That might be the hardest question of the day.  Ugh.  

Oh, finish off my day, my younger sister L made an entire meal from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook.

Mashed Potatoes:
Mocha-chocolate brownies:

It was really good.  A good way to finish off an exhausting day...too bad nothing relieves back pain.

Part 7 Coming Soon!

Oh dear...the endeavors I have created for myself.

Upon my decision to accept a swim team coaching job in Houston, I have to clean out my room in my parent's house so I can move back into it...

Which means there's a lot of stuff to go through in the next few days.  Maybe I'll document some of the process.

In the meantime, I decided to start under my bed - and found the folder of letters that Matthias had written to me.  I was starting to have some serious doubts about whether or not I would be able to find them.  I haven't seen this folder in YEARS.

But, alas, I have discovered it in the depths of the under-bed.  And now, I am definitely going to be prepared to write part 7.  My heart is pounding because I am so stinking excited about this find.


How great these things work out.

So, I apologize to make you wait longer.  But it will be on my list of things to work on in the next days here at my parent's house.


Until later,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Part 6: Journeying Home

*this is a continuation of my real-life Dear John story.  visit the "Germany Chronicles" tab to read the first 5 parts*

Sometimes, dreams do come true.

Out of all of the International trips that I've been on in my 23 years, I can definitely say that this adventure had the most emtional roller-coasters. My journeys to China are completely different in the emotional arena. Maybe the difference also comes from age and maturity. But in all honesty, this trip to Germany did nothing less than keep us all on our toes. After a group of 6 get lost on a train in their pjs, another guy had gotten lost our last night in Munich. Our youth minister seriously didn't know where he had gone off to - and this guy finally made it back to our hotel, but it was a scary deal! This was before everyone had cell phones that worked internationally.

However, on our long flight back to America, an incident occured that helped me to see just how precious a gift we have in the life given to us.

While on the plane, I was happily consumed with the entertainment tv on the back of the chair in front of me. It wasn't until the captain made an announcement that went something like, "If you are a doctor, we ask your assistance in the rear of the plane"...did I know that something terribly wrong had happened. Again, it was like a scene of a movie. These kinds of things just really don't ever happen in real life.

Because I was located near the back of the train, I began to search for the source of the problem, and crane my neck to look behind me. What I saw shook me to the core.

One of my fellow team members and travel companion to Cologne was purple - and didn't appear to be breathing.

At this point, we were flying over the midwestern United States - and we turned around to head back to Chicago to get him some help.

They took him back to the galley in the rear portion of the plane and closed the curtains. Clearly, whatever was happening, they were trying to keep from the rest of us.

When we landed in Chicago, they had an ambulance waiting on the runway. My youth minister left the plane to stay with we were left to wonder what had happened to our friend. We only had a few more hours before we would get to Houston.

Upon arriving in Houston, before heading to baggage claim and to see our families, they pull our entire group into a private room. One of the other ministers from our church was there - and we all knew something had gone terribly wrong. It was here, in this room, that we learned our friend Jim had passed away on our journey home.

Before we left to go find our families (who had also been informed of the incident), we were given the opportunity to process what this meant for our team and our trip. After several moments, I leave the room to go find my family.

Successfully making it through customs, I go to baggage claim and see my family waiting. We gather my luggage, exchange the money I had left over, and head home.

I would like to say that I was grieving for my friend Jim. If I'm being honest, I was the selfish 16-year-old that can only think of herself. And I didn't know Jim that well, but I knew he was ultimately in a better place.

The conversation on the ride home went something like this:
"So, mom and dad, there's this boy..."

"Oh, really, sweetie?"

"No, like, there really IS a boy. And he's German. And we are, like, going to be writing back and forth."

"Honey, what about what happened to Jim? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Did I mention there's, like, a German boy?"

...a little while later...

"Dad, you would have freaked out if you knew that a few nights ago, I was, like, lost on a train in my boxers...and only socks on my feet..."

"Yes, honey, it's good I didn't know that happened. I would have been a little frazzled."

"Yeah. We got lost on the dining car. Jim was with us."

"Well, honey, I'm glad you're safe."


"I want to go back to Germany one day, but for now, I'm just looking forward to next summer when Matthias will be coming here..."

"That's a long time from now, sweetie."

"Maybe. But he's special. And we're going to write this year. It's going to be great."

And that year, we did write...

What I'm looking forward to...

On Saturday of this last weekend, we got a taste of how glorious spring is in southern Texas.  Spring only lasts about a couple of hours before it turns into summer here (which is quite miserable and humid). 

Katy and I took a little walk down to the park close to our house to lay on a blanket in the sun and basically just absorb it's joy and warmth.  And really, it was so relaxing.  The temperature was so perfect and the sun provided just the right amount of warmth to keep the chill off.  Last summer, I missed not being around a pool for the first time in about 15 years.  Every summer before that, I lived at the pool, either by swimming in it for practice or coaching by it for teams.  It was definitely quite different to travel halfway around the world to be in a place that doesn't have central air conditioning. 

So what am I looking forward to in a month?  Being on a pool deck again and feeling the sun bleach my hair back to its lighter brown days.  It wasn't until about a week ago when the weather finally started behaving, that I realized how much I have missed being outside. 

In college, you get to walk outside to get from class to class (or at least I got to).  When you work full-time, it's definitely harder to actually make it outside and help your body make some vitamin D.  Especially when it's cold, cloudy, and rainy/snowy.  This winter was awful (shiver)! 

But when you get to take an hour for lunch and travel to a local park, it's the best feeling to have the sun shine on your face.  Last Thursday was the best lunch I've had while I've been working full-time.  This year, I definitely appreciate the warmth much more.  Mostly because I've basically frozen to death in my office this winter.  My fingers and toes are much appreciative of the time outside. 

Being outside gives me life.  It's peaceful, and I seriously love how God created everything so perfectly.  On Sunday, the sermon was from Psalm 19 - and how David is amazed at the wonder of what God created for our enjoyment.  God paints sunsets for us.  He creates gorgeous Saturday afternoons so that we may lay in the sun and enjoy the glory of His creation.  It definitely fit in with what I've been experiencing with the weather.  No other creature can appreciate the beauty and intimate gift that God has given exclusively to us. 

So I'm looking forward to being outside and enjoying the weather this spring (the few short hours it will last), and ultimately, this summer around the pool deck.  He knows our hearts.  He gives us gifts that we don't deserve...and it makes me stand in awe of who He is.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lost. (part 5 of the chronicles)

*this is a continuation of my true-life Dear John story.  if you missed the first 4 parts, visit the tab above labeled, "The Germany Chronicles"*

If there was a ever a time when I wanted a train to stop and turn around, it was at this moment.  Where is the emergency brake?!  This can't be possible...I can't handle leaving him like this!  

Our journey was far from being over.  

After the train left the station, the dread I felt about leaving Matthias was gone.  I had a peace about how the relationship had happened and where we had left things.  Granted, Matthias was in a totally different stage in life than I was.  But at 16, having this guy express interest in me was well, perfect.

Our groups proceed to find our sleeper rooms - each with 6 beds in them!  That night was going to be an adventure, in more ways than one.  In my room, it was quite difficult to squeeze 6 large suitcases and 6 women with backpacks.  It worked...and we proceed to get ready to sleep for our journey to Munich.  For me, this meant I took off my tennis shoes, changed into my red valentine boxers, and got a picture of the only time I would be in my triple-top bunk bed.  To this day, I still have no idea where that picture went.

A view of the sleeper rooms - this was not my room.  It's just to give you an idea about the size.

After taking this picture, a few of the older ladies wanted to discuss my "circumstances" in the dining car.  Another girl on the trip, G, had similar she joined us as well.  We all order hot chocolate from the wait-person and dive right in.  These older ladies wanted to know what had happened over the last 8 days with these German boys!  As we indulged them with details about what happened, how we felt, and what we intended to do after we got back to America, the train slowly made progress.  We would travel for a while, and then we would stop to allow passengers on and off.

At one of these stops, we noticed how long we had been waiting to start up again.  All the while, we keep talking.  After leaving our abnormally long stop, we decide that since it is maybe after 1 in the morning, we should find our beds and try to get some sleep before we arrive at our destination.  We leave the dining car, which contained 2 other guys from our team, and head back to find our car and eventually, our bed.  We go through train car after train car with no success.  We go back to the dining car and mention it to the other 2 guys...and they go looking.  When they arrive back, we know something is terribly wrong.

We try to communicate with the wait-person in the dining car, but it turns out he does not speak English, and none of us speak German well enough to converse.  Interesting.  What do we do now?  

Eventually, after wondering around trying to find a person who might speak English, we find a train engineer who speaks perfect English!  It was a huge relief.  Once we find out that we have indeed switched trains and are now on our way to the West side of Germany as opposed to the Southern side, unbelief set in.  I had on a tshirt, boxers, and socks.  Luckily, I still had my passport on me, but not everyone in the 6 of us did.  Huh.  This is crazy.  

I'm pretty sure I never panicked.  I thought the situation was kinda fun.  Our little group of 6 went on the "scenic tour" to get to our final destination...which means more adventure!

This English-speaking engineer helped us figure out where to go and even helped us figure out a way to meet our group in Munich, after a stop in Cologne.  Want to know a perk?  We got to ride the fastest train in Europe for FREE!  How many people have done that?  I'm one of them.

We found out later that one of the other adult leaders had woken up about the same time that we realized we were on the wrong train.  God had this situation in His hands the whole time.  I was never worried.

We finally arrived to Munich, about an hour after the rest of our group.  They had a stressful event getting all of our belongings off the train as it was stopped, but they managed it marvelously!  After we got the chance to change out of our pjs, we went on our way to become tourists. 

The morning after getting "lost" in Germany.  

Over the next day and half, we visited a castle, went to Dachou concentration camp, and got to wonder around and absorb Munich for the city that it is.  
Neuschwanstein Castle.

Dachou concentration camp.  This picture shows where the old barracks used to be before they were torn down.

The bathroom at Dachou for the prisoners.

The washroom.

During our stay in Munich, my mind was only half there.  I kept wanting to search for his familiar face...I wanted him to be with us.  However, I was strangely at peace in my heart about leaving and going back home.

The last night in Munich.

Sometimes, fairy tales do come true.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's officially official...

Just moments ago, I accepted a head coaching position for a summer league swim team in Spring, a suburb of Houston. 


This decision is based off of the hope that I have in Jesus to provide different opportunities in the various seasons of life.  I know that this is His provision for right now.  The circumstances could not have happened in a more perfect way. 

About 3-4 weeks ago, my mom had mentioned that I should look for a coaching job for the time after my time at TTI is over.  It's temporary, but it's definitely something as opposed to the nothing that I had at the time.  Last week, I finally took the time to research the possibility of coaching after my previous boss and head coach informed me that she had her assistants from last year coming back for this season.  I researched...and there were a few options.  I chose one pretty much randomly, and emailed the team contact. 

We emailed back and forth a few times before I discovered they were only looking for assistant coaches.  It's not a bad thing to be an assistant - I've done it 4 times, with great experiences 3 out of the 4 times.  However, I kind of felt like I needed to look for something more. 

----Last weekend passes on by--->

I get an email on Monday morning saying that this team I had contacted no longer had a head coach.  Something had happened...and they wanted to interview ME. 


I agree to meet with some of the board members this past Tuesday when I was in Houston for various reasons, and it went well.  I believe that I can work with them and communicate things that will need to get done.  Overall, I thought it was a great fit.  Then they said they would let me know by Thursday. 

Wednesday rolls around, I get up, go downtown to meet with my dad's boss about life, circumstances, and resume building.  There is still a potential opportunity...but I'm not going to talk about it just yet.  We'll have to wait to see what happens there.  I get to have lunch with my mom :) and on my way home, I get a phone call from the swim team.  It's Wednesday, not Thursday, and I thought I would get more time!  I tell them I can't quite make my decision yet - so he says he will call back on Friday (ahem, that's today).

After hanging up, I become really overwhelmed...and can't control the tears as they roll down my face for about 30 minutes.  I don't ever cry.  I felt broken. Lost. Overwhelmed.  Why is life so stinking hard? 

But now you're probably thinking this situation doesn't make sense.  This team is a good fit - and it's perfect.  Well, it's just more complicated.  I had to let go of my insecurities in my ability to do this job well.  I had to resign to the Lord that I KNEW He would take care of me through this whole ordeal.  I don't have a clue what I'll be doing after the end of June, when the season is over.  It's really just not something that I can worry about. 

Take a day at a time. 

So, after spending a lot of yesterday thinking, and praying, and spending time praying some more, I felt peace (and excitement) about the coaching job. 

When the team representative called a few minutes ago, I had butterflies in the tummy.  Now, I'm grateful to God that I even have this opportuity to share my passion of swimming with these little kiddos.  It's going to be a lot of fun. 

There ya have it.  I'm moving back to Houston sometime before April 17th.  There's a lot to be done before then...and I'll be sure to keep my piece of the web updated. 

Thanks for sharing in my excitement!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All roads point to...

This week, as mentioned in the previous post, I am spending some time in Houston.  Right now, I can't disclose any details about what has happened exactly (there was an impromptu interview and other important things).

I can, however, say that I desperately need your prayer!  Honestly, at every other point in my life, I have never felt so broken and lost.  As I was resting after a crazy 24 hours of dental appointments, job interviews and other important critical meetings...the song "What Do I Know of Holy" by Addison Road came on the radio downstairs. I love the melody.  But, it's really the lyrics that speak to me on this afternoon of critical decisions. Here are the lyrics:

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

So, as I seek the Lord for what He might have my "next step" be...I am asking that you, my friends and family, to seek Him on my behalf.  If you could ask Him for clarity, discernment, and Godly wisdom, that would be so life-giving and support my heart as I travel through this narrow road.

I appreciate each of you and your contribution into my life.  Thanks for offering your prayers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Word of the Week: EXCITE!

After that last post...and the number of real-people comments I got on it, I'm finding it hard to figure out what to share now.  So, because this week holds several different exciting things, I thought sharing them might be fun.
  1. As I was cleaning up and straightening the piles in my room on Saturday, I found an envelope from Christmas with a pretty substantial amount of cash in it - WOOHOO!
  2. UPDATE: I got to hang out with Nikki Saturday for lunch and some sweet coffee shop action afterwards.
  3. I got to take a really long nap on Sunday afternoon.  It was a great time to not have an agenda and really relax.
  4. The Oscars were on Sunday night - and I've never watched the whole program before.  It was really enjoyable, (update!)especially because Sandra Bullock won best actress and Sandra and Nikki are twins.  Best parts of the weekend :) 
  5. Monday morning, the morning that I dread the most out of the week, I got up early to take my car to get the oil changed.  See, the exciting part about this not-so-exciting task is that I might or might not have a tiny little crush on one of the guys who works there.  When I get my tires checked, he always does it.  I'm such a silly girl.  But, Josh worked on my car and then I got the oil change and tire rotation - almost a $50 value - for FREE.  The reasoning for that was a little less fortunate...I had to witness one of the associates having what he claims is a "rant".  It was pretty violent - throwing trashcans and the such ( he didn't know I was there).  But I didn't have to pay for anything!  I mean, I guess it might've been worth it.
  6. I found the most hilarious blog.  It's definitely laughing-so-hard-you're-now-crying worthy.  You should visit Cake Wrecks.  It won't let you down.
  7. I was asked to come interview for a head swim coaching position in Spring.  DID THIS JUST HAPPEN?  I'm way excited.
  8. Tuesday, which happens to be today, is the day that I'm going to Houston to check out a graduate program to become an ultrasound technician.  This is also exciting.  I'm looking forward to it more than I thought I would.
  9. Tomorrow, I get to meet with a pretty important man in my dad's life (his boss!) to discuss my resume and career goals.  It definitely sounds intimidating, and I might be nervous tomorrow morning when I actually get up to go meet with him.  But for now, I'm just truly grateful and excited that he is taking time out of his morning to meet with me.  I didn't ask - he offered.  And I'm (for lack of a better word) excited.
  10. Tomorrow night, I am going to see Rascal Flatts at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with Leslie.  This is also exciting.  I think the plan is to eat fried oreos (or whatever else they decide to stick in the hot oil this year). 
  11. Thursday will probably be hard to transition back into work after not being there for a day and a that leads us to Friday and our roomie night at Cracker Barrel!  This is so great - Cracker Barrel just opened in our small college town, so basically, we just don't know what to do with ourselves until we go there (which is so soon!).  Friday night = exciting.
There you have it.  10 things that are happening (or have happened) in my week.  And, next week is Spring Break - which is strange because I have to work for 3 days of it, but I'm thankful for a 4-day weekend.  Until next time, when I find a topic that is blog-worthy,

Thanks for reading my ramble.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Gives You Life?

In my shared mentoring relationship with Meghan, we are reading through, discussing and implementing the book The List by Marion Jordan.  Our first assignment for the process of implementing the concepts discussed in the book was to create "our list" of things that give us life.  You know, the things that get us excited and want to jump up and down.  They could be little, big, somewhere in between, and ultimately, they are different for each person. 

The exact assignment was this: make a list this week of your strengths…spiritual gifts, talents, things that come easily to you.  Easy enough, right? 


For this girl, I had two whole weeks (remember that snow day?!) to think about, plan, and finally write down my list.  The problem was that I would think about it plenty, start to plan it, and then stop.  What was the matter?  This should be fun. 

I could not, for the life of me, come up with my strengths.  Things that come easily?  Beats me.  That's a good question. 

Sometimes, it's funny how things work out and God has a plan, even when we can't see it (my entire life, right now).  Tuesday night, Dayna (our mentor) had a 4H event for one of her daughters...and her expected arrival time was 8:30 pm.  Meghan and I show up at 8:30, and the house is dark.  So we start talking about different things.  I had been honest about my difficulty in creating "my list" from the beginning, so Meghan started asking some intentional questions.  Those thirty minutes while waiting for Dayna were just what I needed. 

So, now you're wondering...what's on my list?  This list is not completed.  It's a process to really figure out the different things that give life for me.  It's a challenge, mostly, because I've figured out in the recent years that I'm an external processor.  But, without any further hesitation, here is my list to date:

1. Lattes: the ones that aren't overly sweet.  I really want the espresso to shine through.  It's a must. 
2. Chocolate.  Some days, it just lifts me up a little.
3. Cooking. As I've gotten older, I have enjoyed this part of my life more and more.  I really like trying new things and learning in the process.  This one is multi-functional.  Not only just cooking for myself, but I really like cooking for other people.  If I had a larger budget, I would definitely try to do this more often.  So, that leads us to
4. Hospitality.  I really enjoy bringing people into my home and serving them...whether with food, or just inviting them into my community.  It is my desire that they would also receive life from being around my roommates.  Meghan and I definitely share this one. 

I would like to say that I have more things at this point, but really, I don't.  When Meghan and I were talking before Dayna arrived home, I realized a lot about my passion for missions.  Recently, I've felt that this passion has been removed from my life.  As Meghan put it, she sees these desires in my heart...and they are being suppressed by other things. 

The pressure.  The decisions.  The uncertainty. 

This realization made me quite sad.  My passion for missions should be on my list.  I was so ready to devote my life to serve for this end goal.  And yet, I can not add it to my list.  It has been suppressed.  I did that.  I decided that it would not be life-giving.  It wasn't a conscious just happened. 

Another thing about this list is how to implement these passions into my life.  It's one thing to simply say, "Man, I really like coffee and I really like to cook," but never share these things with others in my life.  If I enjoy cooking for others, I need to do so.  I need to reach out and share Jesus with those in my life.  Be missional.  Enjoy this other passion that has been suppressed in my life. 

Sharing my list is my new goal.  Not like telling people about it, but implemeting it into the core of who I am.  Making these things that are life-giving to me and putting them into practice, where they might also be life-giving to others because of Jesus within me.  That's my hope and prayer. 

Maybe you should also write a list.  I tell you - it's really a good process to think about and help give every day life some direction.  If you make a list and blog about it, leave me a link so I can also enjoy what God is showing you through the pasisons He instilled into your life. 

Happy Thursday, all!