Friday, September 26, 2008

From the sandbox to the beach

Wow! It's hard to believe the month is coming to an end. The last few weeks have been incredibly full and passed so quickly. While it's been a "vacation" it hasn't been easy.

I have loved and laughed and cried and been inspired. I have breathed in the smell of newborns, revelled in the love of young children, enjoyed deep, satisfying conversations with long time friends, wrestled with my own fears and insecurities, and in the end found new motivation.

I can honestly say that at the start of this adventure, my "sandbox," as my mother refers to my understanding of the world, was quite small. Clearly, it had atrophied over the last 8 years, without my even perceiving it. But, thanks to this time, my eyes have been open to new possibilities.

My sandbox has grown and, towel in hand, I'm heading for the beach.

Not that the transition will be easy or certain. Sadly, I'm realizing that more than finances and emotional health have deteriorated over the years. But, I have a firm grip on reality -- and I am confident in the faithfulness of God. I am sure that He will make my paths straight.

If I have learned one thing, it is that -- whether we know it or not -- we are all in crisis. As long as we inhabit the earth, there is a deep longing in our hearts that cannot be filled with anything but the life-giving, thirst-quenching presence of God. Money, perfection, human love, sex, education, power, control -- none of it will ever "fill the hole".
Tomorrow marks what would have been the 8th anniversary of my marriage. It is fitting that the day arrives as this life-changing trip comes to a close, and I open a new chapter in my life.

I am deeply grateful for the friends who have opened their homes to me, shared their lives with me -- and been kind enough to allow me to indulge in this soul-searching adventure. Their graciousness is evidence of God's unending love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I found it!

So, the other day, I'm at my friends house, Blake and Stacy King. To know Blake, is to know he just doesn't understand how people can lose things. And, sure enough, just when I'm supposed to move my car so he can get to heaven itself, otherwise known as Starbucks . . . I lose my keys.

Yep. Nowhere to be found.

Now, usually, I can find my keys. I just retrace my steps and there they are. But, this time, nothing.

I looked through my bag, I checked my clothes. I checked the car, but it was locked and I only lock my car with the key -- so I didn't lock my key IN the car. I looked through my bag. I checked my clothes. 5 minutes later, while his car is running and waiting, I'm still looking for my keys.

Fortunately, Blake loves me. He didn't show his frustration to me. And, then Stacy says, "are you SURE you didn't put your key in your clothes from last night." And, of course I was sure, because I checked them twice. But, just to appease her, I checked again.

And there they were.

Sort of like joy.

This last year, I've looked in all the usual places. I've gone to church. I've thanked God for his blessings. I've talked to my friends. I've played with children. Went back to search at church. I've wept with thanksgiving for God's grace. And, yet, that pure joy -- that sense of freedom that "Right here. Right now. This is where I should be, here with God and everything is the way it should be." seems so elusive.

I've had glimpses. I was selling windows to a customer in Milwaukee. And, frankly, there wasn't much selling going on. It was just laughing and talking and sharing about life in Milwaukee -- and the crazy politics and the cool festivals. I totally lost track of time, just lost in the fun of connecting with people.

I was playing with my friend Mark's 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte, just before I left on this journey. There's this circular fountain outside their apartment complex and I was chasing her. And, I was truly just myself -- laughing and giggling and chasing.

Last night, my friend Missy and I spent the day shopping and just sharing with one another about dashed dreams and creating new hopes and renewing friendships. And, then, we just got to giggling (okay, maybe there was a little wine involved), but just sharing a good time with a good friend.

I felt so free.

I keep wanting to bottle those moments. Because, I often try to create them. Sometimes I pretend that I'm being myself, because I know I should be myself. But, it's not natural. It's me trying to be me not just being me. (Is anyone thinking that I'm crazy, yet?)

But today, there it was again. I was worshipping. And, this pure, organic desire to be with God. Pure joy. I found it -- or it found me. Not that I expect that the feeling will stay. But, there it was. And, for that moment I remembered why I want to -- not should -- serve God. Why I want to be connected to His people. Why I want to be His girl -- and the opportunities He has laid in my lap that I don't want to waste.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home is where?

The two most emotional words in the English language: Mom and Home.

I was challenged on Friday to identify home. I've often had a "if you don't like it, you can change your mind" attitude. But, perhaps, it's time to make a decision and put down roots. I've never thought of myself as a commitment phobe. But, maybe I am.

Now as a single adult, I have freedom. I'm not tied to putting food on the table for a man who sits around and plays video games all day. I can do anything I want. I have the flexibility to change my mind. But, maybe part of becoming a whole adult is establishing my own home. Maybe I make a bigger impact on the world if I commit to a community and to the people around me. Rather than flitting about in undecided turmoil.

Mom said to me the other night, "we create our environment." That's true. So, my happiness or contentedness is dependent on me -- and the choices I make.

As I'm writing, I'm thinking this is commonsense. But, when the slate is clean and the options are endless, where do you start? I have this enormous opportunity -- but, how do I get my arms around it all just so I can embrace it?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The adventure is on!

I'm on the road! For the next month I get to do nothing but explore! I'm exploring new opportunities, reconnecting with old friends, meeting babies and relinquishing the stress of the last year. What an opportunity!!

So, far, I figure I am just about the luckiest girl in the world! I've spent the last two days cuddling, giggling and laughing with two of the sweetest nieces on the planet. I even received the title of most popular substitute teacher! (Sorry Mom!) ;0 Even my poor sister just can't compete with my educational skills!

Nope. It really doesn't get much better. And, by virtue of the fact that I'm a "novelty" they even listen well to me.

So, we're having fun in Indiana. Tomorrow I'm headed to Florida. Lookout, Road, here I come!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Made for each other

Thanks to Cindy for reminding me that we ARE made for community. :) We don't live in a bubble do we? But, sometimes, hiding out seems safer than sticking our toe in a larger pond.

I had the privilege today, of meeting a marine reservist Sgt. Michael Rands from the Fox Company 2nd battalion here in Wisconsin. They just arrived on Wisconsin soil two weeks ago from Iraq to the open arms of friends and family.

Michael returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. His mother, Susan, and I worked together at Brookstone Homes. And, I've walked with Susan through each deployment, although this was my first opportunity to meet Michael. Michael also met his new baby girl, Adison when he came home -- and I had the opportunity to meet her today, too.

I was surrounded today for exactly 90 minutes by people who love Susan and Michael. All of their friends and family. And, I must say, it made me homesick for my own. I left with the old "not feeling well" excuse -- and bawled the whole way home. (In fact, I'm still crying as I type. (I am going to have one major headache tomorrow!!!!) For all of my big talk about sticking it out till I'm healthy, I miss doing life with the people I love!!! :)

Coupled with the current goings on at work, maybe this signals a need for change -- or maybe just a long vacation. I guess we'll find out soon . . .