Tag Archives: home

I Want Alone

I want a cornfield, darn it.
I want to walk the lane back to the woods, just me, Jesus, and a border collie
I want to sit on the rock at the edge of the forest
Praying out loud into the air over the rolling fields
I want the train tracks, the gully filled with jagged rocks just behind Dawn’s house
I want to sit on the edge, throwing stones off the bank as hard as I can
Watching them crash and break and crack
The only time therapy will ever be free.
I want Piatt Lake. I want to sit on the lifeguard stand
Watching God paint the sky in hues my eyes can scarcely take in.
I want to dangle my legs off the footbridge
To listen to the frogs and crickets sing their nighttime songs
I want to wrap myself in a blanket and sit on the pontoon
I want to find stories in the millions of stars
To watch a meteor shower reflected in the glassy lake.
I want to drive, for hours and hours, miles and miles.
I want open road, without traffic, just me
Just me and the playlist that, if you listened closely enough
Would tell you my life story.
I want alone.
There’s no alone here.
There’s plenty of community, and community is wonderful, but there’s no alone
And sometimes, we all need a little bit of alone.
I want to cry, the kind of deep, raw, cleansing cry that only happens when one is alone.
I want to process without having someone knock on the door every 5 minutes,
Asking how I am, how I’m doing, what’s going on, am I okay?
I want ALONE.
I want to ask my questions without it being assumed that I’m struggling or not doing well.
I want to scream at the sky and shake my fists
Because the God I serve can handle my doubts
But I can’t have them if I don’t have alone.
And He can’t answer them if I can’t voice them.
I want alone.

Summer2011-0614

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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.

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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.

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A Weird Fall

This has been a weird fall, if I’m being honest. It has been a weird fall in so many ways, for so many people, that to even begin to try to explain the intricacies of the pain and joy interwoven in this tapestry called “life” would take pages and hours. My heart, the hearts of my friends and family, ripped and torn and bruised and beaten and healed and helped and dropped and kicked and restored – sometimes switching from ripped, beaten, bruised; to healed, helped, restored; and back again; within the span of a day or two. Faith, relationships, friendships, boys, girls, dogs, Alzheimers, school, pride, homesickness, in-laws, abuse, inadequacy – it seems everyone close to me is dealing with one of those in some big way, whether positively or negatively.

It’s been a fall of learning. Learning to love, learning to let go of love. Learning to embrace doubt without a ceiling, knowing that God is bigger than any doubt. Learning to step out and initiate new friendships, to invite the new girl to dinner or coffee, to stop being judgmental. Learning how to put up the necessary walls to get through a day of work or class. Learning when and with whom to take down those walls.

It’s been a fall of 8 page text messages, fingers tapping the screens of cell phones rapidly, urgently, as if typing fast enough can make the pain go away. It’s been a fall of honesty and confrontation, of putting the cell phone down and meeting in the plaza or at the beach or at Union Station to discuss in person. It’s been a fall of learning to admit feelings, to admit wrong, to admit to being hurt. Learning to stop sweeping everything under the rug. Learning to stop BEING the rug, letting everyone walk all over me.

It’s been a fall of ups and downs, rapidly, sometimes three or four in a day. Rejoicing with one friend then sobbing with another, in the same hour. Calling in to work because I just can’t get out of bed this morning, I’ll be in this afternoonThe kind of hysterical laughter that only comes when it’s been way too long since happiness from deep in the gut. Like a roller coaster, climbing and climbing then plummeting with no warning whatsoever.

Up, up, up, cornfields and new church and family reunions and journaling and long walks in the city lights and making up and new friends and late night nachos and perspective and surprise visits from Jocie. Down, down, down, endless headaches and misguided conversations and trying to make my own plans and crying in the car again and maybe not going back to Peru and things changing and Lady dying and nursing home conversation and doubt. Up, down, up, up, up, down, down, down, down, down, up, up, up, up, up.

{Have there been more ups than downs? Of course. Is God still faithful and in control? He is, has been, and forever will be.}

It’s been a fall of long-sleeve-covered hands wrapped around mugs of Peruvian mate de coca. It’s been a fall of new coffee shops, popcorn every night, How I Met Your Mother, apples, considering tattoos, and appreciating my roommate more than ever before. It’s been a fall of trips back to the Mitten almost every weekend, of avoiding journaling because I just can’t right now, of new musical tastes, boots and scarves, of solving other people’s problems alongside my own.

It’s been a fall of realizing how stinking blessed I am. A fall filled with moments where all I can do is whisper, “thank You,” because I don’t come anywhere near deserving the abundance of blessings God has heaped on my head. It’s been a fall of being selfish, forgetting how blessed I am just moments after my awe-filled “thank You,” demanding, “more, Daddy, more,” like a child. It’s been a fall of grace, of Him giving me more and more and more even though I ask for it selfishly. A fall of Him prying open my tightly closed fists, then wrapping His hands firmly around my now empty palms, showing me I’m not alone.

It’s been a weird and difficult fall, yes. But when I look back on my life, the seasons that were the “weirdest,” or “hardest,” are the seasons where God has taught me the most. The seasons where I’ve cried the most have been the seasons where I’ve also grown the most. It’s been a fall of leaves changing colors, falling to the ground, and being trampled on. The trees will freeze soon, but that won’t be the end. Soon enough it will be spring.

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I Ran Away to the Cornfields this Weekend

Sometimes, I just need to escape the city

Visit my Papa Baker, drive into the driveway on Cole Rd.

Let Eugene the Cow lick my arm a couple of times,

crunch the leaves under my feet as I walk back in from the pasture.

Sometimes, I need to look at my childhood memories through fresh eyes

Remember how much I appreciate the open, quiet, rolling cornfields

Eat toast with fresh freezer jam, followed by a glass of fresh cow’s milk

Let the country air soothe my soul and calm my nerves.

Sometimes, it takes a three or four hour drive

The smell of the house on Cole Rd

A good cry with my grandpa by the grave of his loyal dog

A late night trip back from town, under the blazing country stars

A hug from Nana even though she’s not sure who I am

To remind me to relax, to breathe, to remember how great I’ve got it.

Sometimes, I just need to scream-laugh for hours at Jocie’s house

While ingesting half a can of spray whip cream

And watching people wrestle over cell phones

Before falling asleep whispering secrets with Maggie.

Sometimes, it’s just time to go

To drive back down M-49 just because I want to see the Student Center

To point out every significant place to the friends that came with me

Every family member’s house, every church and field and restaurant that bear some meaning

To watch my worlds collide in the most bizarre, beautiful manner

And remember that everything is gonna be okay

That God is sovereign

and good

No matter what.

Sometimes, I just need to go to the cornfields.

And so I do.

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Not Tomorrow Yet

“We’re going to play in the rain, do you want to come?”

I had my night planned out. Classes start tomorrow and I needed to look over my syllabi, pack my backpack, put my schedule on my wall. I was going to heat up my leftover Chinese food and make a sign listing the books I’m trying to sell. But as my roommate begged, pleaded, and listed the million and five reasons why I absolutely HAD to come outside and leap around in the torrential downpour, I realized something: classes may start TOMORROW, but it’s still today.

And so, fresh out of the annual Vespers service, and with “Oh Happy Day,” still stuck in our heads, seven or eight of us crammed into the elevator in gym shorts, tee shirts, and flip-flops. We giggled in giddy anticipation as the floors ticked off on the display above our heads. 5,4,3,2,1, and we were in the lobby, huddled together staring at the deluge which had produced flash flood warnings in the greater Chicago area.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” screamed Grace, and we sprinted through the doors of Houghton Hall into the already flooded plaza . The deepest puddle reached the middle of my calf, and I was drenched to the bone in an instant. Like elementary schoolgirls we squealed and giggled, kicking plumes of water at each other as we ran around and around.

Shouts of, “HOLY CRAP, that’s COLD,” and “I can’t see anything!” and “Oh my gooooosh, this is so fun!” and “There’s still a dry spot on your back!” rang through the plaza. Upperclassmen carrying umbrellas gave skeptical looks, total strangers joined in the fun, and laughter tears mingled with the rain on our faces.

After ten or so minutes of stomping as hard as we could while screaming at unnatural pitches, we headed back into the dorms. On the way up, we drenched the floor of the lobby and the elevator. And seven college girls (no, really! We are! I swear!) tumbled out of the elevators onto Houghton Five, still gasping and giggling, dripping wet, shivering, and smiling.

Tomorrow will bring its challenges. Tomorrow I’ll drag myself out of bed before 6 am. Tomorrow classes start, tomorrow my job begins again. Tomorrow I have to eat in the SDR, have to decide what to wear, have to get back into a routine.

But it’s not tomorrow yet. It’s still today. And today, I walked over 3 miles in the rain to and from my home church. I listened to a message that cut me to the core. I ate Chinese food with my best friends. A lot of Chinese food. And ice cream. I painted my toenails. I made commitments, promises, and plans. I worshipped. I sang “Oh Happy Day,” and did the motions even though no one else around me was doing them.

It’s still today. And today, we played in the rain.

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Four Days!

Four days from now, at this time, I will be sleeping in the house of Rosa’s sister. I’ll be in Lima, without my family, without my friends, without internet, without my phone. I’ll be in a strange bed in an unfamiliar house, but I’ll be happy. I’ll be almost home.

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