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.