Monthly Archives: November 2012

Where I Belong

“Maybe you’ve been away from your family for a long time, and you get to fly home tonight. They’ll pick you up at the airport, and it’s hard to find anything that compares to that joy of running into their arms.” The chapel speaker was talking about home and heaven this morning, and my mind started reeling, thinking of the glimpses of heaven God has granted me on this earth – the places in this life where I have found pockets of Home.

The Most Joyous Day of the Year – no, not Christmas. The wheels touching down on the tarmac, walking down the airplane stairs into the oppressive humidity and into the airport as quickly as possible, gulping in the familiar smoky air. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the bags, impatiently shifting from one foot to another. Finally crossing through the doors from baggage claim, seeing my Peruvian family after a year. Sprinting into their arms in a chaotic storm of Spanish, English, tears, and laughter. Sound kisses on cheeks, strong arms finally tangibly wrapped around me after a year of aching. Smiling so big my face could crack open, accepting the water bottle Zaida instantly has ready, and walking outside to board a motokar for the first time in so long. Home.

A left turn onto North Rd. after four and a half hours in the car. Rolling down the windows to inhale the Pure Michigan air. God’s country. Finally pulling into the cabin. That first step into Piatt Lake, the first view of the sunset. Black stillness on the footbridge, stars reflected in the water below. Worship in the Miracle Building sanctuary, the trek from the cabins to the sweet shop, sitting on the pontoon with my dad, Tuesday night bonfires, pizza at midnight with Kendra. Home.

Ian and Avery clamoring for space on my lap. Taking hundreds of goofy pictures on my phone and laptop, telling yet another story “when me and Avery and Ah-Ah and Bo Bo and Papa went to a farm.” Will smiling up at me from my arms. Avery growing sleepy and snuggling. Home.

Moody. Chicago. Sitting in my room talking to Molly. Walking the tunnels to CPO or the SDR. Answering phones at work. Sprawling on the floor with the girls on my floor. Taking the Brown Line. Lake Michigan. Walmart Express. Classes, finally knowing my way around Sweeting. Home.

Sitting on the couch in the living room, watching Julian Smith videos with Bo. Mom doing the dishes while we try to watch TV. Laying on my parents’ bed at night, just talking. Waking up in my basement room. Farrand-to-Irish-to-Vienna-to the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Fields, whistling wind, getting the mail, walking to the church. The librarian knows me by name. Home.

Turning into the driveway on Cole Rd, knocking extra-loud so Nana and Papa hear it. The pink room. #inthecornfields. Lady sitting on my lap in the big chair. Country magazine, morning devotions, and making dinner. Seven minutes flat from the back door to Jocie’s front door. Advice from Papa. Walks around the Arboretum. Crossroads Farm. Home.

Coffee with a friend. Weekend visits. Laughing until it hurts. The kind of hugs that you melt into and feel instantly safe and sheltered by. Long car rides. Fall walks. Home.

I’ve been so blessed to catch glimpses of heaven, of Home, here on earth. The problem with all of these things, though, is that they end.

The Most Joyous Day of the Year is followed in a few short days by The Saddest Day of the Year. Back at the airport, the tears flow again, the arms cling again. Sobs wrack my body as a soundproof glass wall separates me from the people who have worked their way even more deeply into my heart.

Summer ends and I have to cross the Mackinaw Bridge again, this time in the southbound lane. I leave the small cousins to go back to school. I leave school and everything changes before I come back. My parents sell the house I grew up in and soon I will have no legal right to sleep in my childhood home. Lady dies unexpectedly, Nana doesn’t remember me, and the barn is being sold. There are no more walks around the Arb because I’m no longer friends with the person I walked with.

The last drop of coffee is gone and it’s time to leave the cafe. The weekend is over. Sheltering hugs end within two minutes at the most. Fall turns to winter.

And then the speaker says some of the most powerful words I’ve heard in a long time.

“When we trust Christ, our souls find home.”

All the glimpses of Home I’ve been given are but temporary. They’re like watching but a few seconds of a preview for the most epic movie to ever be released. They’re not meant to be my home, but to make my heart long for my true Home – with Christ.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

First Snow and Happy Tears

We’re sitting on the floor, talking, when Kelci bursts through the door screaming about snow. Not three minutes later, we’re in the plaza with what seems like the rest of Moody.

Indeed, white fluffy flakes are twirling gently from the sky, collecting on the ground and plaza ledges, covering my black gloves and jacket in a fine, dusty, blink-and-it’s-melted layer. I’m admiring the shape of each snowflake on my glove when I decide to look up.

My friends are in a huddle, they’re talking and yelling across the plaza at other friends, throwing meager snowballs at each other… but I’m in my own world. I’m looking up, blinking against the onslaught of snowflakes; blinking for another reason too. As I look up at the suddenly-wintry sky, tears prick the back of my eyelids. Happy tears.

Happy tears because I live in Chicago and I go to Moody. Happy tears because we ALL came down to see the snow – all five of us – like it used to be. Happy tears because we’re walking down the road to Sweeting just to see the two light poles wrapped in Christmas lights. Happy tears because Christmas is coming and I’ll be with my family for nearly a month.

Happy tears because even though it hasn’t seemed like it, time has kept moving. Happy tears because life goes on. Happy tears because God is faithful. Happy tears because everything is going to freeze soon, the weeds and the flowers both, but the cold kills the weeds. Happy tears because when it thaws, the weeds will be gone.  Happy tears because if winter is here, spring must be coming soon. Happy tears because that’s obviously a metaphor.

I’m blinking and flicking the back of my hand across my eyes and clearing my throat. Jesse is there and he’s saying, “you look so happy,” and I’m giggling like a giddy schoolgirl because he has no idea. I’m clapping my hands and grabbing Molly’s arm and yelling, “snoowwww,” over and over and over.

I rejoin the huddle of friends, smiling and laughing and reveling in the novelty and purity of what will soon become a nuisance. Everyone is so caught up in the celebrating that they don’t notice I’m still blinking rapidly, but that’s okay. I know, and it’s only the first snow.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Comm[unity]

In a world of fake, forced community, where “hihowyoudoing” has become one single word, spit out by a person who hasn’t even stopped walking; where any admittance of failure, hurt, or vulnerability is met with befuddled stares and uncomfortable, awkward exits…
In this world,

I am so thankful for the community God has allowed me to be a part of.

This season of life is stressful, and sometimes “hihowyoudoing”  is most honestly be met with

You know what, today sucks.
or-
I’m actually not okay, and I’m not sure when I will be.
-or-
I’m rejoicing from the deepest part of my soul.
-or-
I’m carrying so many burdens for other people and I’m so grateful I can do that but I’m about to crumble from the pressure.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” and that is truly what I have been taught to do here at Moody. Never before have I realized the depth of this verse, the feeling of rejoicing with and being rejoiced with, mourning with and being mourned with.

Never before have I felt so acutely that I am not alone.

My friends get excited with me over things that would ordinarily not excite them in the least. We stop in late at night, after work or meetings, to see how the interview was, if she got the job, if she passed the test, how teaching went. Bare feet pad down the halls at 11:30 pm to jump up and down and muffle screams with pillows. Six or seven girls sat through Handel’s Messiah because our dear friend had a solo… at the very end. We eat way too late at night, go for walks in the pouring rain, and close our computers to turn around and be present.

There are girls on the floor who invite me in to talk and let me ramble for an hour and a half. One girl came and read in my room on Saturday… nearly two hours in total silence, working on our respective homework, just being together. Sharing life.

It goes both ways. We don’t just share each other’s joys, we share each other’s sorrows. “She’s hurting” becomes “we are hurting,” So many times we’ve sat on the floor in a tangle of arms and legs, physically and tangibly surrounding the one who has been hurt. In my room, the mantra is “never apologize for your tears.” We stroke hair, scratch backs, give hugs, and hold our tongues in favor of comforting. We share. We share meals, we share emotions, we share life.

This season I’m in is uniquely blessed. Right now, I have a support net of people who help carry each other when life gets hard, and that same support group will walk a mile or two in the rain to celebrate a victory with Chinese food. I can’t do this “life” thing alone, and for these four years – I don’t have to. I just have to walk down the hall, or go to work, or look across my room.

Tagged , , , , , , ,