Monthly Archives: November 2011

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She sits in coffee shops, sipping full-strength brew with a splash of cream, reading books on theology and listening to a band she discovered yesterday.  She’s surrounded by friends, and whispers with them between homework assignments.

She hops on the Brown Line, transfers to the Red, takes the 156 to Union Station – and knows what all of those things mean.  She knows where not to go alone at night, and could take you to the beach one of three ways.

Her hair is wild and curly, loose and carefree. These days, it’s rarely pulled into the severe ponytail or bun of her past.  She puts thought into her appearance now, departing far from the girl who spent nearly every day in sweatpants and a teeshirt.  She tucks jeans into boots, flicks on mascara, and adds a necklace without even thinking about it.

She sits at the dinner table for hours, eating spinach salad and exchanging banter about occasionally awkward topics.  The end of dinner finds her roaming the tunnels with her favorite people in the world, lingering longer than necessary in random corners and doorways.

Every night, she hosts a prayer group in her room.  Surrounded by four of the closest friends she’s known, she shares from the deepest place in her heart.  She listens as the others share, bows before her Father while the group intercedes for one another.  She laughs with them, cries with them, and doesn’t shy away from her feelings.

She bought a brand new journal at the beginning of the school year, and it’s already a quarter of the way full.  She sits in the stairwells with her Sharpie pen, pouring out her heart to the Lord on paper.  She asks the hard questions, begs for contentment, and gives thanks for the life she hardly recognizes.

During these times with Jesus, it hits her: she has the kind of life she used to secretly long for.  She has been blessed with real friends, true acceptance.  Most importantly, she has discovered legitimate, beautiful, profound, concrete, palpable intimacy with God.  That intimacy has overflowed into every aspect of her life.  Her heart is filled with real joy.

She’s not always “fine,” but she knows how to admit that now.  Her mask fell off a few months ago, knocked off after some long conversations with her Father and her friends.  It hit the ground and shattered into a million tiny pieces.  She didn’t even try to pick it up.  She doesn’t need it anymore.

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Conflicted

It’s good to be home, but it’s also strange.  I am struck again and again by how different my life is now.  As I drove to Millington for an appointment today, I marveled at the quiet roads and open fields.  It’s all so familiar and normal, yet a completely different reality now exists for me.  Perhaps because I have yet to bring anyone home to Millington with me, my college world and my home world have not collided.  It’s as if College Alyssa is still in Chicago, living her life with her friends, while Millington Alyssa is back here – sleeping in the basement, driving the Taurus, eating real food, and doing homework at the kitchen table.

I show my mom pictures of school, pointing out people using only first names like she knows who they are.  “Oh, that’s Alyssa and James and David and Grace and Hailee,” I say, as if those names should click in her head the way they do in mine.  By the end of the last month’s worth of photos, she’s learned, “That’s the one from Kalamazoo, that’s the one from the Philippines, that’s the transfer, that’s the girl from Owosso.”  But she’ll never live with them, never know them like I do.

It’s a strange realization, that my parents don’t know all of my friends and probably never will truly know them. When I think of Alyssa, David, Grace, and James, I think of eye rolling and hours of talking, early Christmas music and incessant back-and-forth teasing, deep discussions and mocking CWC films, and shared bus and train rides back to the Mitten.  I think of late minutes, walks to the beach, spontaneous activities, movie nights, crocheting, and countless other memories.  My parents can maybe match a name and a face, might know of an activity or two that one of those people was a part of… but that’s it.

College Alyssa couldn’t be more different from Millington Alyssa, and as College Alyssa returns to Millington, there’s a strange struggle inside of me.  It’d be easy for Millington Alyssa to return and slip back into the life I’ve always known.  Yet, I love the person college is turning me into.  The problem is, people in Millington haven’t watched the transformation.  They don’t sit at the table in the SDR for hours.  They couldn’t tell you how to get to Forever Yogurt or the difference between the Target on Roosevelt and the one on Wilson.  They didn’t sit in that Women’s Min event with me, they don’t show up for Pow-Wows and Prayer every night.  They weren’t there when Trevor was rushed to the hospital or when my Molly and I had our freshman breakdowns on the exact same day.

I try to relate funny stories, share anecdotes, even describe emotions that I’ve felt.  I attempt to share bits and pieces of the person I’m becoming, but it’s hard.  I journal about how much I hate growing up, how I’m not ready to be on my own and be an adult – yet I wouldn’t trade life at Moody for the world.  When I’m away from school, I’m homesick for Chicago streets, the late nights in the library, the hours at the SDR table, and most of all the people.  Life is changing, shifting, moving faster than I can keep up with.

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say.  It’s like my life is this paradox of loving being off and on my own and missing childhood.  It’s a conflict between embracing who I truly am and just wanting to be my parents’ kid forever and ever, never making a decision.  It’s confusing, it’s distressing, and sometimes it makes me cry.  Thank goodness I have Jesus holding my hand and reading my journal.

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Faithful

I was going to attempt to post about this past weekend, but I’m tired and loopy and my good friend Grace already summed it up better than I could.  God’s faithfulness was evident all throughout this weekend, and we are so thankful that our brother is okay.

Orchestrated Friendships– by Grace Rakow
Rebekah Wells gazed out the window of her hall’s lounge. Cars moved, people walked, wind blowed, yet she did not really see any of it. All she could do was reflect on the past twenty-four hours.

Her main group of friends had stayed up really late the previous night, having a “middle-school sleepover.” It was really fun for all. Great conversation took place, as well as a lot of silliness. At one point during the night, they had written some cards for a few of their “brothers,” just telling them how much they appreciated them. All of those brothers were very dear to them, since the young men really did show God’s love and care through all that they did. They planned to staple the notes to little bags of homemade cookies and put into their mail boxes.

It had been so fun the next morning when they got to see a couple of the guys right after they found the gifts in their boxes. Faces were just so bright, excited, and thankful. The added lateness to their night had been worth that reaction.

Afterward, they had gotten to go to a coffee shop before studying at a park for the afternoon. One brother had come along, and Rebekah really felt as though they were even closer to him after the talks that took place while they “studied.”

That same brother took Rebekah on a run and then read all of them a “bedtime story” in a hilarious British accent, although the group of brothers and sisters that were there ended up just going to watch a movie in the viewing room at the library afterwards, instead of sleeping like they had planned.

All in all, it was a day of fun and bonding, and the girls were so thankful for the gift of the brothers that God had blessed them with. Each was such a gentleman and truly cared about their safety.

Yet, after the girls had finally gotten back upstairs, they got a text message informing them that the same brother that had been with them all day had “cracked his head open” after falling in a hallway in their dorm buildings.

All the girls rushed out and met some of the other brothers in the plaza to pray for the one who was hurt and his family. That time of prayer and concern, just lifting up one of their beloved friends to the Lord, seemed to cement the bonds that had been slowing interweaving together. After receiving some more information that made them realize that it looked like the brother would be fine, Rebekah and the other girls went up to a room and sat together talking, praying, and realizing just how much they had grown to love all of their friends in the short three months they had been at college.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, they found out that he should be fine. He would be in the hospital overnight, and then he would be back on campus. He still didn’t remember certain parts of the night and repeated different phrases, but he was doing so much better. All the girls were so relieved, although in their hearts, they still just wanted to see him to make sure that he was okay.

The following day, Rebekah and three of the other girls rushed back to campus after church. They had heard that the brother was back and was going down to lunch for a little bit. All they could do was thank God and wait in expectation for the time that they could give him a hug and know that he was okay.

And they did and he was.

Rebekah could only praise God now. He had protected their brother, keeping him safe in the shadow of His wings. And she had known He had His hand over her brother the whole time. The peace she had could only come from God. Praise the Lord: He had brought their dear friend back to them.

Thank You, Lord, for the amazing gift of friendship that you have blessed us with. You know that all of us girls really do love our “brothers” so much. Thank You for orchestrating friendships. Thanks for Your protection and guidance. Thank You for all that You are! You are so good, God! I praise You and thank You!