Monday, August 31, 2009

The Pink Sweatshirt

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but desire fulfilled is the tree of life."
Proberbs 13:12

Being single and slightly older than I was before, the whole idea of hope and longing is becoming as familiar to me as my pink sweatshirt.  I love, love, LOVE my pink sweatshirt.  I've had it since the mid-80's, bought it at EXP, have worn it in many countries, to many outings, I've painted in it, watched movies in it, slept in it, cleaned, shopped, you name it - that pink sweatshirt and I go WAY back.

SAD to say that there was a time that that pink sweatshirt fit me... well it was never TIGHT but now (and thankfully) it kind of just hangs on me, and if I'm totally TOTALLY honest with myself, it should retire to sweatshirt heaven, but I LOVE my pink sweatshirt (and pink's not even my favorite color).  I've even had friends threaten to steal it from me and throw it away.  I know every part of that comfy piece of clothing.  The ribbing around the wrists are starting to fray, and there's that green spot of paint (I own nothing painted green, so that's a bit of a mystery), but those tiny delicate flowers and the softness... oh I can't WAIT for the weather to get cooler so that I can pull it out.

That pink sweatshirt has seen me through countless heartbreaks, thousands of joys and hours of laughter.  It has been with me for as long as the desire, the HOPE of getting married, of belonging to someone, of being not just one, but two.  It is as familiar to me as that hope and longing.

One of my closest and oldest friends (we're talking kindergarten here) told me shortly after college that she really, REALLY believed that God was calling her to be single for the rest of her life.  Since then she has lived at peace with that decision.  She has lived her life as a single woman desiring to serve God with her whole life.  She's single, happy, content and confident in her life's calling.

She is my hope that someday I will get married.  You see, I have never gotten that call from God like she has.  I have cried, SHINE I've cried, over that longing.  But everyday, somehow, some way, that whole idea of hope continues to get through.  Over the years and through the many heartbreaks I've learned one thing - that regardless of how and when God fulfills that longing it will be His perfect plan, in His perfect time and in His perfect way.

"The vision is yet for the appointed time;
it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries wait for it;
for it will certainly come, it will not delay"
Habakuk 2:3
And as long as it takes and as painful as it might be at times, I am content (FINALLY) to wait for him.  For it will certainly come, it will not delay.  I have hope in that. I am as comfortable with my hope and longing as I am in my pink sweatshirt.  And like that beloved piece of clothing I have no plans on tossing aside my hope that one day my prince will come. 

(Sorry for the rather quick and brief departure from the whole Crazy Love thing.  I wrote this post in part due to a website I visit each morning.  Check it out - I think you'll enjoy it too.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Please Leave A Message After The Tone

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
Galatians 4:1

Good morning, friends.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know that a month ago I went back to Belize and while I was there I read the book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  God is so totally and completely using this book in my life that I decided I needed to buy another copy (I gave mine away before I left Belize) and re-read it slowly in order to savor and appreciate and understand all it is that I think He is calling me to.

Since I'm reading it again (and actually blogging on a semi-regular basis) and since I'm nearing my 30 days of being back and deciding if I should make that major life-change, I've decided to take y'all (all 3 of you) along the journey with me.  Yeah for you!  

But before we go any further, let me make this disclaimer:  ULTIMATELY the Bible is my one and only authority on how I should live my life.  I am not delusional enough to think that any human, be it Francis Chan, Bob Norris, Joel Hunter or Beth Moore, can be the ultimate or final authority in my life.  That belongs to God and God alone.  I do, however, believe that God can, and does use His people.  I have much to learn and many more roads to travel down.  And if the lessons and applications that I have gotten from Crazy Love, Pastor Bob, Joel and bible studies by Beth Moore (and many others) are all backed by His Word then these are all just road maps to help me get to where I pray His is calling me.  

So, with that said, here we go!

"...surrendering yourself totally to God's purposes, [He] will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next."
Francis Chan

I believe that I know what God is calling me to, I just don't know what to do about it at this point.  But is it my job to figure that out?  Or is it my job to just surrender to Him and to live my life worthy of that calling?  An old Keith Green song says, "He'll take care of the rest."  

What is God calling you too?  Is it radical enough to scare you?  I'm scared, but at this same time, I don't want God to just leave me a message.  I think, I'm FINALLY at the point in my life where I want to answer that call.

Happy Sunday, y'all.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It All Began With...

four little words.  These four words have changed my weekend. They're not very exciting or impressive words, but, words that have made an impact in my life.

"Oh by the way..."

Now whatever follows those words can be good, "Oh by the way, I found this check made out to you for $10,000" or bad, "Oh by the way, your cat died."  These words could save your life, "Oh by the way, there's a large semi barreling down you" or change your life, "Oh by the way, I love you, will you marry me?"  (FYI - if I'm proposed to with a line that starts with, "Oh by the way" I'll say YES but I won't be happy!)

But what followed "Oh by the way..." when my roommate said that to me the other evening, was certainly the absolute LAST thing I figured anyone would EVER say to me.  And while it was really neither good nor bad, it certainly has changed how I thought I'd spend my weekend.

"Oh by the way, I've been exposed to Norwegian scabies."

Scabies... and not just any scabies... NORWEGIAN scabies.  Tiny little body mites that burrow under your skin with an accent.  And not just a few, like with normal scabies, THOUSANDS of the little uninvited buggers.

Itching yet?  Yeah, me too.

So my idyllic weekend at the beach became an isolated at home weekend and hoping for the best.  There was this initial overreaction by the place that discovered the pests, but now everyone has calmed down and we're all just wondering going, "huh..."  Turns out chances of my roomie getting them are 1 in a million and mine are like 1 in a trillion.

Maybe I can figure out a way to arrange my furniture today!!

I so wish, however, that I was at the beach with sand fleas, the ever present chance of bed bugs and a million mosquitos.

Itching NOW??

Friday, August 28, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Call it the hope of Fall with it’s smell and colors.  Or call it boredom with just about every aspect of my life.  Or, and probably most accurately, call it discontentment.   But whatever the reason, I’m feeling a combination of nesting and something akin to… well… I guess the technical term would be blah.

This is manifesting itself in a total and complete reorganization of my entire house.  Last Saturday alone I painted a piece of furniture, cut out fabric for a slipcover and started moving furniture around.  And moved it.  
And moved it.

And I moved it Sunday.

And Monday.

And Tuesday.

And well you get the idea.  Even now nothing still feels right (and my living room and dining room look like I just moved in – there’s stuff EVERYWHERE!).  I am blaming it all on this one piece of furniture, one of my favorite pieces, that just doesn’t seem to be able to find a home.  No matter where I put it or how I position it, it just doesn’t feel right.

It is a BEAUTIFUL piece that used to be a 4-drawer dresser (with 2 small drawers up top) that had survived a household fire.  I got it for a STEAL at a place called Prosser’s, tossed some black paint on it and for years used it as just a dresser in my kitchen. (Oh, FYI, I collect dressers. Yup, it’s true.)  Then one day I saw an article in a magazine where they took 4 dressers and re-did them and viola! a masterpiece!!  So I ripped out the article and took it and my dresser to my friend Everett and said, “Make this… into this.”  And he did. And I LOVE IT!

But now, I don’t know what to do with it.  I have not liked it’s placement since I moved in here and so I’ve spent the better part of the week moving it from wall to wall to wall…


I can completely identify with this beautiful piece.  (Yeah, there’s probably all sorts of things you can say about me identifying with an inanimate object, but please refrain.) I don’t think I’ve felt like I’m in my right spot for nearly 2 years.  And while I’ve spent oodles of time trying to make my surroundings feel like home, I’ve found myself feeling more and more discontent, more and more unhappy, and finally more and more lonely.

I do not doubt for one single, solitary MOMENT that me moving here was His plan.  There were situations and circumstances that just made it obvious and necessary for me to make this move.

But now…

I dunno.

Maybe it’s me and maybe I’m not making enough of an effort or maybe this is just God’s way of showing me it’s time to go home.  Or maybe if I put that piece over on the wall next to the window in my dinning room...


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oh The OCDness Of It All

I have reached the ULTIMATE in OCD-ness. I should walk around with my head bowed in shame after what I’m about to tell you. Ya ready??

(Ok, not yet) It appears I am potentially, POTENTIALLY, going on a trip next February, actually 6 months from today. It was a simple as Greg saying, “And you should come, too.” And me saying, “Duh – SURE!” Nothing’s in stone (though I think a “Duh-sure” does commit me), and though it’s highly likely that I will go, it’s not definite. Oh sigh I can’t believe about to say this…

Tuesday afternoon, I started my packing list COMPLETE with my “Items to get” list. I can sit here and give you all sorts of really good (or at least what sounds really good to me) reasons for why I started my list, like:

  • I'm REALLY excited!!

  • What if the things I need go on sale and I forget then have to run around at the last minute and get them and probably end up spending way too much money on them???

  • What if my life is absolutely flippin’ INSANE in the weeks leading up to my trip and I’m unable to make my list and I end up going with nothing but the clothes on my back!

So if you read my blog a few days ago, you know that it is TOUGH being me.

And some days are tougher than others.

In the meantime, I need a mini-Maglight, some packets of travel Kleenex and some socks… I gotta hit Target!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hippo Birdies To Me!

It’s my birthday.

YEAH!! Thanks to the wonderful world of text messages, cell phones and Facebook, I am feeling overly loved (is that possible?) and extremely blessed. I have spent my morning basking in messages, phone calls, emails, Tweets and funny notes left all over my office. I started my morning (after my 5:30 AM walk with Lucy Jane) thanking God for the year He’s given me and praying about the year He’s going to give me. In my journal, I wrote, “Give me the courage to live a radical life for You – one that makes a difference. Let me have the determination to make the next year of my life count for You… regardless of how I may feel, how uncomfortable, nervous or self-conscious I may get. ”

I think that over the last several days I had started to lose sight of WHAT God may be doing and just started getting wrapped up in life of rearranging furniture, working out, beach weekends, you know, stuff. But over the past few days, a text message from Greg and a phone call from Jen slowly started bringing it all back to the surface. Then something my friend Terrie wrote to me last night reminded me how He is getting ready to do SOMETHING.

SHINE I have the attention span of a flea!

Anyhow, since it is my birthday, I’ve also spent a good portion of the morning indulging myself in one of my guilty pleasures: blog hopping. (Yeah, probably not the most productive us of my time here at work, but hey, have I mentioned it’s my birthday?!!) One of my favorite bloggers, Anne Jackson is also a guest blogger on a new website, (in)Courage (and let me thoroughly THROUGHLY encourage you to click on the link, forget my blog and go there - it is more than beyond worth it). I was reading some of the past posts and happened upon one by Melissa Michaels on finding peace with the season you’re in. I haven’t asked for permission to repost this, so please, if you’re considering turning me in, let me know so that I can drink all my Coke Lights before they haul me off to the slammer.

Highlights from Courage To Be You by Melissa Michaels

So, how do you find peace with yourself and the season you are in?

Here are some tips that have encouraged me along the way:

1. Get to know your heart.
What makes your heart beat a little faster? What are your passions in life? God gave each of us special gifts and things that He has planted in our heart to share with the world. We are all unique! We don't have to have it all together or keep up with someone else's priorities -- we can find beauty and peace living the life God intended for us. Our life might look a little messier or less "put together" than our neighbors, but we can find fulfillment in being authentic and true to who we really are. Let yourself discover and develop the passions God gave you.

2. Be purposeful.
Take pleasure in the things you decide to focus on! Whether it is keeping up with the dishes, serving the community or playing with your kids, find fulfillment in your special purpose each day. There is a time and season for everything -- some things you really love doing might have to wait for another phase of life. Be patient for God's timing! The things you choose to focus on may not look as impressive as what your friends do, but if you live purposefully you will care less and less about what other people think.

3. Embrace imperfection.
This can be a tough one for some of us! We feel God can't use us or we can't fully enjoy life or care about others until we can attain a certain level of perfection. "I will have the neighbors over WHEN we get this and that done around the house." It is hard to admit, but many of us hide behind our imperfections. Those imperfections become an excuse for our inability to live out God's purpose in our life.

We can become easily self-conscious about our homes, the way we decorate or our looks and lose sight of more important things in life. We need to give ourselves permission to be "in process" and focus our attention on finding contentment with what we have been blessed with. Once we can accept our imperfection and remove that roadblock, we can find new freedom in becoming all that God calls us to be.

4. Resist comparing yourself.
I love reading magazines, books and blogs. I love shopping and looking at beautiful things. I get a lot of encouragement and motivation this way! But I need to keep myself in check by not overwhelming my senses with too many suggestions. When I feed myself a steady diet of things that distract me, I quickly become overwhelmed and discontent.

I'm not just talking about avoiding ideas that are beyond my means! Even TOO MANY simple ideas or suggestions of things I "could be doing" can give a sense of not measuring up and being behind before I even get started! I find it really important to protect my mind from overload and distraction so I can focus on what I've determined God has called me to right now in my own life. Feeling balanced and content requires a balanced diet of input. Comparing myself to others on a regular basis is not healthy or productive for me.

5. Have Courage!
Finding contentment in who we are and purposefully living the life God planned for us takes real courage. It is oftentimes easier to drown ourselves in discontent in the life we live and pronounce ourselves failures for not being as talented or accomplishing as much as our neighbor.

Allowing God to use us right where we are, (in spite of our imperfections), having the courage to say no to input that distracts us, and the resolve to live purposefully in the season we are in will open the door for us to become all that God intends us to be.

Have a great day, my friends. Do something courageous today as a birthday gift to me. And pray for me as I find the courage to do what He is calling me to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Hate To Disappoint You, But...

There are about a million terrible, disgusting and scary things I’d rather do than disappoint someone. You can hate me, be mad at me and even talk ill of me, but please, PLEASE don’t be disappointed in me. I will, at all personal cost, do just about anything to not disappoint you. And if you say those five horrible words, “I’m so disappointed in you” I promise you, I will cry. Big crocodile tears.

Today I had to do something that I knew was going to disappoint someone. The chicken way out would have been to email, or worse yet, text them (well I guess the WORST would have been to write something on their Facebook page). But I value that person and our friendship WAY too much to be a coward. So I knew in my heart that my only option was to call them (face-to-face wasn’t an option).

I’ve known since about 11 last night that I had to make this call. Needless to say, I slept for about a grand total of 3 hours worrying and fretting over this conversation. So rather than make myself sick the entire day, I called this friend at a reasonable hour and all but blurted it out before even asking how they were doing. I found myself nearly in tears, stumbling over my words, trying to explain why I was doing what I was doing.

I’m telling ya, it’s TOUGH being me some days!

This friend was BEYOND gracious. Completely understood. Totally supportive of my decision. And without hesitation forgave me.

But here’s where I landed with all this a little while later… I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I disappoint God on a daily, no make that moment-by-moment basis. I know that this morning when I chose to run to Food Lion before work (Diet Cokes = 4 for .85 each until tomorrow) instead of spending time with Him, TERRIBLY disappointed Him. And there are a myriad of other things I’ve done since 5:30 AM that have disappointed Him, BUT do I feel the same remorse, regret or anxiousness over telling Him or confessing to Him what I’ve done as I did when I called my friend this morning?

Heck no!

Why? Part of it is because I know that God forgives me and loves me in spite of me. I know that NOTHING I will ever do (with the exception of denouncing Him as Savior and Lord) will EVER change that. What it all boils down to is that I take my relationship with Him for granted. The absolute most important relationship I will ever have, and here I go running around like whatever I say and do just doesn’t matter.

But it does.

God doesn’t just want me running to Him with my needs and wants, but He also wants me to be honest and real with Him and yes, tell Him what He knows I’ve already done, ask for forgiveness and be done with it. Move on. Accept that forgiveness and rejoice in it.

And on days like today, get over being me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Got Nothing

I’m having one of those days… those “I can’t focus on squat… oh lookie a birdie” day. I’m choosing to blame it on listening to 80’s music all morning long. Though not my preferred choice of music, it’s certainly better than 70’s music. So trying to figure out what to chat about this morning with y’all has been difficult. I’ve run the gamut of everything from sharing about a good friend (who doesn’t live in this country*) about what I think God may be doing in my life and their sweet encouragement to talking about Walter, an older gentleman who rides the bike at my gym every day and watches home videos on his portable DVD player and the tears I saw in his eyes on Friday (Walter isn’t his name, but I’ve managed to make-up an entire life story about him in my mind).


I got nothing… nada… zippo… zilch.

Wait… nope nothing.

It’s it wonderful that God doesn’t struggle with not being able to focus? He can focus on the war in Afghanistan, the prayers of my friend Jeanette who has cancer, and me – and basically my life is good! I am so very, VERY glad that I serve a God who is all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful. Because this chick has managed to get up from her desk 3 times now to go look for a fax. Thus far I’ve gotten a glass of water (trip 1 – didn’t look for a fax), grabbed some envelopes (trip 2 – still haven’t looked for the fax, oh and I didn’t need the envelopes) and stood in the back room trying to remember what I was there for (trip 3 – nope, didn’t look and ended up grabbing a few more envelopes).

There ya go folks – it’s a blog about nothing ‘cause I got nothing. Have a great day and if you need any envelopes let me know. Huh – what should I have for lunch?

(*I mentioned this only because at this point this is the only person who knows anything about anything. And since they don’t live here, I figured I’m safe.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome To Moe's!

I hate eating alone. Sorry, let me rephrase, I don’t prefer eating alone (I’m trying to learn not to use the word hate). I don’t mean sitting in my house watching Two And A Half Men (which, FYI, is a terrible show). I mean going to a public establishment and sitting all by my lonesome eating my food. As a matter of fact, the last time I can remember doing that was back when I lived in Virginia with Donna, Cindy & Elizabeth. I went to Ruby Tuesdays, and when they announced, “Wassam, party of one” I thought I’d die.

Needless to say that experience scarred me for a very long time. Last night was the first time in probably 20 years that I went to a restaurant (ok, so it was only Moe’s, but still), ordered my food (the Billy Barou, chicken, NO BEANS) and when asked that all important question “Is that for here or to go” I held my head high, ignored the sweaty palms and the sound of my heart pounding out of my chest and announced for all to hear, “Here!” Then, when it was my turn to pay, I nearly chickened out. But I had 3 motivating factors for staying:
  1. I live about 20 minutes from Moe’s. So by the time I get back home, my food is a bit chilled and the cheese sauce congealed. Ick.
  2. It was pouring, I mean POUR-ING outside. I had darted in to Moe’s seconds before the skies opened up. And on an impulse, grabbed the book I was reading from out of my gym bag.
  3. Sitting, BY MYSELF, at a table is just a teeny, tiny, small, VERY small step in the whole God-maybe-possibly-doing-something-HUGE-in-my-life thing. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it is. Tiny, though, ok?
I got my food, picked a table (kinda in a corner where it would be so obvious that there were neon lights blinking above me screaming, “LOSER EATING BY HERSELF!!”) and proceeded to thoroughly enjoy my dinner and my book. Seriously! I enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, when I was done eating, I continued to sit there for awhile longer until I finished the chapter.


Now don’t go thinking I’m growing up and getting all mature and stuff, because the likelihood of this happening again in the near future is slim to none. But for now, this small victory feels HUGE in my heart.

Next on my list: learning how to ride a motorcycle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life, Love & the Pursuit of a Perfect Cup of Coffee

The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.

Crazy Love, Frances Chan, pg. 20

Now is probably a good a time as any to let y’all know, that most likely, unless a burning bush appears in my front yard and tells me to do otherwise, I’m not going to be revealing my major, huge, life-altering decision within the next few weeks. There seriously are some folks I need to talk to first who I’m thinking maybe should hear it from me rather than reading or hearing from someone else who has read it. And, ultimately, what I’m thinking and feeling may NOT be from God (hence the whole 30-day cooling off period).

Really – it’s not nearly as big a deal as I’m making it sound. It’s really rather minor in the whole grand scheme of life, love and the pursuit of a perfect cup of coffee (which I’ve found, by the way). So I apologize for the delay in revelation, but it’s for the best. And I promise, by the time I tell you, you’re going be like, “Eh, really? That’s it? So who’s going to win the Super Bowl this year?”

It’s hard giving up dreams that may ultimately not be God’s will or God’s best for me. But that’s a part of allowing Him to be the center of my life. I think for too long I’ve been walking around saying, “Ok God, this is what I want next” or “This is where I want to go next” or “Gosh I would be swell if You’d give me this next.” So for the next while I’m trying not to talk TO God but instead let God talk to me. Is what I’m thinking feeling HIS will and HIS best or is it me forcing that?

I dunno.

And, I realize, that some of those dreams and hopes and desires may ultimately be His will for me. And that’s GREAT. I just also need to stop trying to put MY time table into God’s hand and let Him do what He’s going to do, when He’s going to do it. I read a quote by one of my favorite bloggers, John Acuff, that said,

God loves to ‘pace our dreams,’ but we think He’s ‘delaying our dreams’ and in doing so we misinterpret what is a gift, as a punishment.

What am I rambling about? Not much, I suppose. Just that I know God’s doing something. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Love For Him Is...

The other difficult part about coming back from a trip is NOT making any HUGE life-altering decisions as soon as you return. Face it, after a great trip (heck even after a bad one) there’s this emotional high (or low) that cries to be fed. Sometimes that manifests itself in doing something REALLY dumb; other times, not. Back when I was the short-term missions coordinator for Northland, I remember consistently telling teams, “DO NOT make any MAJOR decisions for at least 30 days after you get back.” I have 20 days to go.

Of course, if memory serves me, the 1st time I went to Belize (back in 1998?) resulted in me making a huge, major, life-changing decision. But I’m fairly certain I waited 30 days. I wonder if it was as difficult then as it is now.

So when I was down in Belize, I read (devoured is more like it) Crazy Love by Frances Chan. This book challenges us be more like Christ, to take God at His Word and to live out what Christ calls us to live. Sounds simple, eh? Why then, did I find myself having to reread sentences and sometimes entire paragraphs just to make sure I was grasping what was just said? Other parts made me, no forced me is more like it, to put down the book, get up and walk away. Sometimes I think I was running away from what God was saying to me through this book. Other times I just needed to talk it all out with Him.

Here’s where I’ve landed. I’ve become complacent with my faith. I’m like this lukewarm pool of goo with no purpose, stagnant muck – ok, I’m feeling the need for a shower now. How did this happen? When did I lose sight of the fact that God’s love for me is crazy? At what point did just existing become ok? Where did I get the idea that God can love me the way He does and I don’t even have to try to love Him back with the same crazy, reckless abandon? (Please note the word TRY – I know I will NEVER get close to loving Him with the same type of love.)

This book managed to take everything I was already beginning to think and feel and bring it all out into the open water and force me to start wading through it. I do not want to just live, I want to radically live. I will never claim to be a leader, teacher, and heaven knows, a writer, but I want to make a difference. I want to make a radical difference. And I most certainly don’t want it to be said of me, “Wow, that Alice, she’s amazing. Look at what she’s done.” I only want people to see Christ in me and I only want people to see and talk about what He’s doing.

Here’s my fear (and I think what Chan fears for all of us who read his book): am I going to walk away from what I’m just now starting to understand and realize, and do absolutely nothing to change my life? Or will I act on what I’ve been challenged to change. My sometimes impulsive, often overly emotion- driven self wants to leap with reckless abandon to where I think God is leading. But I’m taking the next 20 days and praying and seeking and talking to people I who think can help and guide (or slap me back to reality).

My dream is really, REALLY big. My God is bigger. His love for me is crazy. My love for Him is….

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If I Were James Taylor, I Could Finish This Blog

The hardest part about coming back from a trip that is so wonderful and enjoyable is trying to, as succinctly as possible, share experiences and stories with friends and family and NOT bore them. I tend to swing from one extreme to the other:

Amanda: “So HOW was it??”
Alice: “Well we got there on Tuesday, July 28th at 10:48 AM and when I walked outside of the airport there were 4 ice cold Coke Lights waiting for me. I was wearing jeans, a green top that I bought at Old Navy and NEVER tried on, which was stupid and my tennis shoes. SHINE it was HOT! Then we divvied up all the stuff that was for others, separated what was going to Caye Caulker, packed all the car parts and miscellaneous food stuff in my green duffle – you know the one I constantly borrow from Scott – got in the van and drove around Belize City. I really don’t know why we did that, but we …” (you get the idea).

Nancy: “How was your trip?”
Alice: “It was good. Do we need more paper towels?”

It’s amazing to me that after all these years I’ve yet to master the whole “tell my story in 3 minutes, highlighting just one or two experiences and/or funny stories” thing. You’re either getting ALL my stories or none at all. Even now, I’m struggling to figure out how to sort out even 1/10 of what happened in Belize (which has virtually nothing to do with WHY I went to Belize). Sweet Baby James, where are you when I need you?

So now, for the last 20 minutes I’ve sat here, trying to figure out where to begin. Do I start by telling about the fun times spent in Caye Caulker and the hours of talking and relaxing and soul searching? The paths I think maybe God is leading me down as a result? How a bottle of fingernail polish ended up all over me (with some work, FYI, you can get it out of your clothes)? How each time I said to Jordan Leigh, “Hey let’s go on an adventure over _________” she would end up getting injured but yet was always willing to go on the next adventure? Do I tell about our time down in Punta Gorda and reuniting with old friends and making new ones? The need that was so evident while we were there and the ideas that were formed as a result? How I overcame my fear and jumped (and, regardless of what you may hear, it DID NOT take 2 hours!)? The feelings, emotions and revelations that God gently pressed on my heart? The night of the scorpions? The time spent out at Machaca and the great talks I got to have with guys who so desperately want to grow more in their relationship with God and who really, truly desire to make a difference in their country?

The gallons of Coke Light I drank?
How I managed to avoid rice & beans at every single meal?
Chunky Monkey ice cream in Belize bears no resemblance to Ben & Jerry’s. But is far better.
Storyville is better when sitting on a beach in Belize, talking with a friend, regardless of the amount of grinds (grounds? grunds?) you get in your teeth.

Or do I just bite the bullet and reveal the radical life-changes I think God is leading me to? The dream that is just so big that even thinking about it scares me?

Sweet Baby James would know the right things to say.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Had A Grape Time In Berlin, Hiney.

I’m fairly certain that at some point, somehow, just prior to me leaving for Belize, I made some SILLY statement about keeping up my blog, etc., while I was gone. And I know that because it’s all there in black and… well… whatever that color is. And I did do that very thing for 2 whole days. Wow… get down with my bad self and get right back up again because that’s where it all stopped. I have many excuses and reasons for not keeping my promise (did I actually MAKE a promise??):
  • Wireless internet in Caye Caulker was not all that great. Now that wasn’t totally true if you stayed in one of two rooms at the Tropical Paradise where you had GREAT internet or if you sat outside in the gazebo, but my laptop wouldn’t recognize the wireless connection. So my options were to consistently borrow someone’s laptop and either hang in the gazebo or crash in someone’s room. Neither option was all that appealing to me since there was so much other stuff to do. Besides, believe it or not, I have this serious phobia about being an imposition to someone.
  • Of course, there was always my iTouch (or iPod Touch for those of you who are touchy about it being called an iTouch). Wherever there was internet, my iTouch would connect. But, have you tried typing out large amounts of text on those things? Not fun. And with “auto correct” I end up saying things like, "I'm having a GRAPE time in Berlin, hiney!"
  • Then once we were down in Punta Gorda my chances of connecting to the internet were greater. However I had given my laptop away to someone in Caye Caulker, so I was back to having a grape time in Berlin, hiney.
But the truth of the whole matter is that by day 3 or 4 I was so overwhelmed with what I was reading, where my prayers/thoughts were taking me and with what was going on that I just was quite incapable of putting feet to my thoughts. So instead I just internalized it all and prayed for clarity of mind and that at some point I'd be able to unpack all this STUFF going on and share it with y’all.

I devoured “Crazy Love” and gave it to a friend down there before I left. Now I feel like I need to go get another copy and take my time reading and let all the things that caused me to think and cry and get pumped about, sink in and take root. But for now, I’ll be content to slowly try to understand all that God is saying and doing.

Wash your wear theater to encompass this with metropolitan (seriously gotta turn the auto correct off!).