home again.

homei left friday morning to make the two hour trip to atlanta.  there wasn’t much on the agenda.  i just wanted to be with my people.  oh, how i have missed my people.  i pulled up to the familiar house on branch bend road.  i’ve worshipped, cried, slept, laughed, dined and celebrated in that place.  it’s familiar.  greeted by hugs and how are yous i sunk into the couch.  patti made me a sandwich and mike insisted on checking the oil in my car.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

 

 

i invited myself into a previously planned dinner.  we squished seven people around a table and enjoyed a meal.  we reminisced on what has been, speculated on what’s to come.  decided to be thankful for what is now.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

“brunch in the morning?”  yes.  i sat across from one of my dearest friends for nearly two hours.  conversation came easy – there was no getting to the real stuff because it’s just there.  laughing about the imperfections that surround us and exist within us, sharing about work and our lack of social lives.  brunch turned into a few more hours of snacking on popcorn and continued chatting.  it was just what i needed.

exhale.

it felt good to be home.

birthday celebrations with favorites and ones who happened to be around.  walks in the park with hundreds of lantern holding friends.  a perfect summer night.  a breakfast of cinnamon rolls on that all too familiar red couch.  laughing and crying.  the crying comes on that couch one way or another.  a slow morning of goodness.  lunch with the birthday girl.  a quick trip to see a new home.  the place they’ve been waiting for.  one more time, helping to unpack a box – at this point, we’re all pros.  we sat in the garage for two hours because i couldn’t make myself leave.  hugs and see you soons and holding back the tears.

exhale.

it felt really, really good to be home. 

kentucky fried crying.

i’ve shed my fair share of tears in public places.

over coffee with people who asked hard questions.  in hotels and restaurants around the world when i missed my family.  in kelly’s office more times than i can count.  one night during a class in college i was crying so hard i had to leave.

i guess it’s just kind of my thing. i cry. good things. bad things. happy. sad. angry. it’s how i emote and how i process.

this week i parked myself at kentucky fried chicken a few times.  i’ve been catching up on blogs, emails, finances and facebook.  i’ve talked with some of my favorites and caught up what life looks like both here and there.  yesterday i hung up with one of those favorites and i burst into tears.

i’m not entirely sure why.

there’s nothing wrong.  things in honduras are great.  my squad is amazing and i’m absolutely loving leading them.  the lord is taking me to new places in him, continuing to remind me that i’m a daughter and that’s enough.  things with my co-leader are good.  i’m not upset about anything.  i’m not missing home any more than i normally do.  i don’t feel (too) stressed about the future or unsure of what’s going to come next.  i don’t feel particularly overwhelmed by things.

and yet, the tears still came.  but in a cleansing kind of way.  in a way that brings release and actually helps you breathe a little bit easier.  it was the refreshing kind of cry.  the kind that reminded me that i’m loved and missed and known.  the kind that makes you thankful for the people waiting for you.  the people you can count on.

it was a good cry.  even if it was in kentucky fried chicken.

it’s not so easy this time around.

when i made the decision to go on the world race almost four years ago it felt like the easiest thing i’d ever done.  i was a senior in college, graduating in a few months, forced to decide what my next step would be.  there was some opposition and raised eyebrows at the thought, but mostly i was supported and encouraged.  sure, i was nervous about raising the money and was unsure of who would become my teammates and all of that, but the actual decision of saying “yes” to it felt like a piece of cake.

because it didn’t feel like i had to give much up.

sure, the showers and beds and decent food would be missing.  and i would miss my family and friends.  but i felt, more than anything like i was getting to gain everything i’d been dreaming about.  i got to travel the world, see new cultures, have new experiences and meet new people.  for jesus.  it was the best thing i could have ever imagined.

the decision for me to go back to the field as a leader was anything but easy.  at the risk of sounding dramatic, it was one of the hardest decisions i think i’ve ever had to make.  and the impact of the decision still makes my head reel when i try to fall asleep at night.  i leave soon.  real soon.  emotions are high across the board and the reality of my being gone is beginning to sink in.  don’t get me wrong.  i am over the moon excited about this.  i feel like i am finally getting to walk into some things that the lord promised me years ago and i am totally and completely obsessed with and committed to the 23 people i’m leading.

but.  there’s a lot more at stake this time.
and today i just need to let myself feel that part of it.

the messy, ugly, crying all day long because i can’t help myself, will someone please hold me part of it.

no, it’s not the showers and beds and decent food.  it’s not the fact that i have to go live out of a backpack again.  or sleep in a tent again.  it’s none of that stuff.  it’s the family and friends and life and routine i’ve come to know and love.  it’s cinnamon roll saturdays and church on monday nights.  it’s spontaneous lunch dates with people i can dream with.  it’s staying up late to clean up the mess from the dinner party we just had.  it’s phone calls with best friends and coffee with mamas and papas.  it’s the routine and the rhythm i have found.  it’s the all day long Skype conversations, the ramen noodle roommate dinners.  the knowing i’m surrounded by people who are always for me.  the feeling at home in so many houses.  it’s the little stuff and the big stuff.

it’s all of my life.  and this time, it’s just not quite so easy to give it up.

unreconciled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

a rant. and a request.

i don’t like to see my friends hurting.

whether it’s over a family member being sick, support not coming in, a boy, a lie from the enemy, or some big injustice going on in the world that they have absolutely no control over.

i hate to see my friends in pain.

the problem is i also have a really high sense of justice.  and so my reaction is generally to just get mad when i see them struggling.  sometimes i get mad at the circumstances.  sometimes i get mad at the Lord.  sometimes i get mad at the people who do the hurting.  also i’m really good at holding grudges. also, i’ve also gotten pretty good at the being bitter thing.  i know, i know.  it’s not the most healthy way to live my life.  i get it.  really, i do.  and the lord and i are working it out slowly but surely.

anyways, don’t hurt my friends.

just….don’t.  because then i will hurt you.  kapeesh?