as you come home. (a letter to my favorite squad).

dear brian, katie, elliot, ryan, jayda, kristen, nikki, kevin, stefan, andrew, abby, riely, andrea, kaci, karson, laura, arielle, kaitlyn, krista, cherub grace, carly, kacey, and sami :

tomorrow you’re boarding a plane and you’re coming home.  you’re coming back to all of the things you left behind.  you’re trading in your backpacks for full closets and you’re broken mattress pads for queen sized beds with fresh sheets.  you’ll hand in your less than stellar diets of mostly rice and beans for an equally less than stellar diet but now it will consist of whatever you want.  don’t try to make up for all of the chick fil a you missed your first week home.  just don’t.

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you’re returning to see all of the friends and family you left behind nine months ago.  you’ve missed holidays, birthdays, graduations, babies being born.  you’ve had days where you wanted nothing more than to be on your own couch, eating your mama’s home cooking and clicking through the channels with your closest friends.  and you’ve had days where you forgot you were sleeping on the floor with people you barely knew.  because somehow, it all starts to feel like home.

right now, you’re caught smack dab in the bittersweet.  i get it.  really, i do.

as you come home and you transition into whatever the next season is, let me offer you a few things :

you’re not the same people you were.  you’re not boys and girls wandering around the world.  you are sure footed men and women who have unveiled a bit more of their identity.  don’t forget that.  and walk confidently in who you’ve been made to be.  but keep in mind that everyone has been watching as closely as possible, which is still from a distance when you’re on opposite sides of the world.  have some patience with your friends and family and don’t become arrogant because “they just don’t get it.”  give away the same kind of grace that people have given you.

generally speaking, people here practice pretty good hygiene.  please jump back on that wagon.  the showers are hot now, so there is really no excuse.

focus on what you’re thankful for.  as you process the last nine months; the places you have been and the people you have encountered you’ll realize that not every bit of it was a bed of roses.  that’s okay.  that’s life.  don’t dwell on all of the things you wish had been different.  don’t wonder about the what might have beens.  take your entire experience and be grateful.  while you’re at it, stand on some chairs and shout about what you’re thankful for.  we’ve all learned that it makes all the difference.

get some sleep.  seriously. you’re tired.  take a nap.  or two.

remember that you are not alone.  jesus is with you and all of that. yes.  but you are each surrounded by friends and families that love you and have missed you like crazy.  and now, as cheesy as it sounds, you’ve got a whole slew of new friends and family that also aren’t going anywhere.  you’re not abandoned or forgotten.  you are loved.

okay, i’m out of wisdom.  at least for today.

i love each of you deeply.  i am beyond proud of you for how you have served the nations and each other so well.
you have two days left.  don’t get into any trouble now, kapeesh?

simple reminders.

so, here’s the thing.  seven weeks ago i left a group of twenty three people.  i’d basically fallen for all of them and was devastated when i had to say goodbye.  since returning stateside i’ve been keeping myself busy; traipsing all about.  sleeping on couches, in other people’s beds, hotel rooms, and plenty of naps on plenty of planes.  tomorrow i’m starting my last big trip (at least a trip that’s planned) to south africa to see my people.

i’m basically beside myself excited.

i’ve been packing and prepping all week long and here’s what i’ve noticed.  i think that  the lord feels similarly about me as i feel about them.

i was writing notes to them and over and over and over again i just kept writing “i’m proud of you.”  and i am.  incredibly.  so proud of who they are becoming, the ways they are saying “yes” to whatever the lord puts in front of them.  i’m proud of how they have fun, how they celebrate each other, how they earnestly pursue the voice of the father.

and because i love them i’ve been running around like a crazy person to get them the stuff they want.  starbursts.  check.  chapstick.  done.  new underwear because, let’s be honest, six months of hand washing them suckers…..  but it doesn’t feel like a hassle to bless them.  i’ll spend all of the time and money i have because they’re worth it.

and, i don’t know.  maybe my sentiments are just extra strong these days.  but its been such a good picture this week of how the lord thinks of me.  he’s proud.  even in the mess and the brokenness and the having nothing figured out…he’s delighted.  and he’s happy to give me the things i ask for, just because i ask.  i don’t do anything to earn them.  i’m just worth it because he says so.  he’s happy to bless me.

so, that’s it.  nothing incredibly profound for you today.  just a simple reminder.  he sees.  he knows.  he’s proud of you.  he’s happy to bless you.

with that, i’m hopping back across the pond.

unanswered prayers.

at the risk of sounding cheesy and cliche and potentially making someone gag at my christianese :

have you heard that country song about unanswered prayers?  i couldn’t tell you who sings it, but the line has been on repeat in my head for several days now.  “some of god’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

last year around this time i started looking for a new job.  i felt like i needed to begin exploring options outside of aim, outside of what had become really normal and comfortable.  i looked and looked and prayed and cried and looked.  and finally i found it.  it was the perfect job at what seemed like the perfect school.  it was far enough away that i would be on my own, but not across the country from my community and my people.  it was the ultimate blend of discipleship and administration. it was flexible.  it paid well.  it would offer me a chance to continue my education.  it was exactly right.  and i wanted it.  i really, really, really wanted it.  more than wanting it; i was absolutely, positively convinced that it’s what the Lord had for me.  every door opened up.  and i knew that in august i would be starting a new job in a new place.  and i was thrilled.

and then the door slammed right in my face.  

and i didn’t get the job i had dreamed about, hoped for and begged for.  i was upset, confused and spinning.  i had no idea what i was going to do.  and then i showed up to training camp.  and you all pretty much know what happened there.  the lord said that if i wanted a gift, i could have it. so i said yes.  mostly because i really wanted it.  partially because i didn’t have a better option.

i can promise you that the last three and half months have been one of the best gifts the lord has ever given to me.

it’s been an emotional and exhausting few days as i’ve wrapped up and said goodbye to my squad.  i’ve handed things over and worked really hard to not enter this transition kicking and screaming.  i’ve been sitting alone in the beijing airport for the last twelve hours and as weird as it is to be boarding a plane again, my heart and my spirit are really at peace.  if i’m overwhelmed by emotion it’s just because i am so very thankful for what this season has been.

thankfuli’m thankful for the ways i’ve come alive.  for the passions the lord has reignited in me.  i’m thankful for the way my kids have opened themselves up and let me be a part of their own processes and journeys.  i’m thankful for the fun i had on busses and beaches and malls.  i’m thankful for honduran street kids that reminded me that kingdom living doesn’t have to be complicated.  i’m thankful that i got to be a part of walking people through freedom…even if it was in the middle of the night.  i’m thankful for conversations and tears that came in my tent, for every coffee date i had and for furniture to stand on when i taught 23 timid people how to do declarations.  i’m thankful that they aren’t so timid anymore.

i’m thankful for people at home who love me and support me.  for instagram likes and blog comments and emails and facetimes and text messages.  i’m thankful for the ways he showed up when i needed him most.  i’m thankful for a new season of rest and celebration and provision.  i’m thankful that i’m more settled in who i am today than i was yesterday. or two weeks ago.  or six months ago.  and i’m thankful that as good as this was – it’s not the best thing or the only thing he’s ever going to give me.

i’m just.  yes.  thankful.  that he works all things together for the good of those who love him. and that despite my begging and hoping and praying – he had something good in store for me, even in the midst of my disappointment and confusion.

and at the moment, i am most thankful that even though i’m not there anymore, i get to cheer and pray and encourage and remind and blog stalk and visit the 23 kids i fell in love with. that now i just get to sit back and watch what they do and what the lord does.  it’s been a privilege to be a part of it.

uncomfortable rides.

david, katie, brian and i have been staying with team willow in chanthaburi, thailand.  we’ll be here for almost a week before we head back to bangkok and i have to get on a plane and say goodbye next week.

yesterday we drove in the back of a truck for about three hours so that we could attend a celebration for a church that was opening up their new building.  we were greeted with smiles and ushered to dinner where we were served a nine course meal.  of course we were asked to sing a rousing rendition of “lord i lift your name on high.” people took pictures with us and of us and we were given gifts; screen printed hand towels.  we enjoyed ourselves and were thankful to be a part of something so special.

and then we had to get back in the truck.  and we had to drive three hours home.  and it was freezing cold.  it was the most uncomfortable i have been in a really, really long time.  eight of us laying on top of each other, huddled together trying to stay warm.  those hand towels came in handy as little blankets that helped block the wind.

so, there i was.  really, really uncomfortable.  except, in the middle of it, there was also some sweetness.  there was a starry sky.  a cuddle sesh with some of my favorites.  extra squeezes when we went over bumps.  there were laughs and screams and sighs of relief when we finally made it home.  for all of the uncomfort, i couldn’t help but be thankful that this was life.  because how many times will i get to sit in the back of a truck in thailand?

and then i started thinking about how uncomfortable the next several weeks are about to feel.  leaving the people i’ve fallen in love with.  figuring how to fit back in to certain molds…again.  feeling like i’m missing out.  making adult decisions and adult plans for my life.   it’s hard and doesn’t feel good.  but.  there is sweetness in it, too.  there are stars in the sky and christmas celebrations to be had.  there are cuddle sessions with other favorites that are long overdue and coffee that’s brewing.  uncomfortable?  you bet.  but there is sweetness and goodness to be found in the midst of it.  and i’m determined to find all of the gifts the lord has hidden away.  even if i’m looking for them through tears.

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.

i’m not allergic to wasps.

i know that i’m not allergic to wasps because i’ve now been stung by two of them in less than twenty four hours.  the first one attacked me right on the nose.  i cried like a baby and then put wet tobacco on my face.  my nose isn’t, as allison would say, quite as gross today as it was yesterday.


this morning another little demon creature got me on the finger.  a little more gracious of a spot, i suppose.

despite the wasps, life in honduras continues to be great.  we’ve developed so many strong relationships with the hondurans and it will be a sad day when our squad leaves here in a few weeks.  thank you for all of your continued prayers and support. we couldn’t do any of this without you!