round here

June 30, 2012

Like the little girl I wrote about not so long ago, last night I was the one dancing. And fittingly, considering the pattern of my joys this past year, it was an unexpected blessing that brought the joy. What are the chances of a last minute discovery that a favorite band is performing in the neighborhood where you are attending a training session . . . and that you are given a stack of free tickets for you and your friends? I am not sure what the chances are, but I am quite sure that it was a providential gift for a restriction-weary soul. So unrestricted, and unabashed, I danced.


June 28, 2012

It is a humbling thing to be in the middle of a cross-cultural training session as one who has “been there.” In many ways, I feel very ill-equipped to be an advisor here. But I must trust that what experience I have will be helpful for someone, somehow. And granted, I have been wrestling with issues that make my insecurities more prominent in my mind right now, due to this time of the year, and of my life.
Recently, as I spoke of some dreams I had for the next stage in my life, someone in my life who has been “settled” for quite some time voiced a concern. I have not lived near this person for a long time but have stayed in touch and visited periodically. They told me that they wondered why I would be considering moving to a new place after moving so much in the past. They wondered if I would wake up one day and realize that I had many friends acquaintances but no one consistently close to me.
Oh, how this hurt! I keep mulling over the words and feeling a wounding in my spirit. I am asking myself if this is true. When my heart aches for someone in my life, is it a shallow ache? Is my heart not really connected on a deep level? Are the relationships I develop with current housemates pointless, because they will end?
I think of all the people I said goodbye to at the end of this school year, and of the time invested into those relationships while I was with them . . . was that time wasted?
Oh Lord, may it not be so! My prayer now is that there might be hope for us wandering souls after all . . . Maybe?
Maybe, just maybe, God has a plan for those of us who have grown up so unsettled that we do not know how to sit tight and be still in one place.
Maybe, just maybe, I can have an eternal impact in others’ lives even if I do not spend the rest of my life with them: I know, for a fact, that people who have meant much to me remain influential in my daily life even once we are no longer in daily contact.
Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for one such as me . . .
Maybe some day I will settle down, in spite of how difficult that has been for me thus far.
Maybe it will be something not to fear, but will rather be a beautiful and seamless transition into a fulfilled life.
*This is a photo from my recent flight to visit my brother. As we flew, the pilot gave me interesting tidbits about the areas we passed. One of them was this bay that is completely filled with driftwood. I was struck by the sheer quantity of it at the time, and by how different it looked from an aerial perspective. Posting this writing today, I thought back to that driftwood and felt it somehow complemented my thoughts. In hopes that a driftwood life may turn into a different sort of tapestry when the pieces make a whole . . .

boot scootin’ boogie

June 27, 2012

You never know when you’ll run into an old friend from Georgia . . . who lives in Peru . . . when you’re at a work training session in Mississippi. And you didn’t know till now that you were coworkers, in a round-the-world sense :-) So here we are, at the end of a day of sessions, out for an afternoon walk. It just seems fitting to fit in one more foot photo, posed with a Mississippi-appropriate backdrop. Don’t you think?

this morning’s landing

June 25, 2012

In the “where am I now?” series, I offer up this shot of the day. I couldn’t think of anything terribly telling to photograph, so far as my locale goes. My walking buddy offered up a few suggestions, such as “Elvis” and “BBQ,” but neither of those ideas, though good ones, lent themselves very well towards a visual aid. So instead I settled upon an attempt to capture the heat. We braved it, several times, in a desire to experience this place and, for me, to enjoy the freedom. But it was, truly, a hot one. So this photo was taken facing the blazing afternoon sun. The sun of the Memphis area, if you hadn’t figured that out yet :-)

sail away

June 23, 2012

And today: a different perspective on that traveling route . . . by air, by boat, traveling still :-)

“What’s that ant doing?” . . . “Tucker loves me.”

Yes, Tucker loves you. Do you know who else loves you? “Who?” Your Auntie Anna loves you. “Yeah . . .”
A little while later, back in the house, she looks up from her bowl of cherries and smiles at me. “I love you.”
Melting . . .

path of the day

June 21, 2012

Today, a trail of photos. A visual trail of the path that has brought me from where I was this morning to where I am this evening. A beautiful path, for it has brought me to a beautiful place :-)

yes i do

June 19, 2012

It’s funny the sorts of things that pop out of your mouth when you’re in mid-kid-madness. As we walked back from our errand-running walk, I told my cousin that it was a sort of “mindless creativity” that prompted random song-writing, silly rhyming, and the like. My cousin happens to have a very high-maintenance little one. Make that 2. Boy #2 is significantly more mild-mannered than #1 but you still have the multiplication factor that makes matters more stressful no matter the nature of the child . . .
All that to say, my hat’s off to this sweet super-mom of a cousin I have :-)
At any rate, there we were out for a long walk with a double stroller, combining errands of cell-phone purchasing and school-age child form-signing along with our walk. And it struck me, as it always does when caring for little ones, how all-consuming, and humbling, the work of childcare can be. It is a labour of love, in the truest sense of the expression.
At one point, I took over monitoring, waiting outside the school with the stroller and the dog while my cousin ran in to take care of office business. I was armed with Wendy’s best, french fries and a frosty, that we had purchased as a way of keeping them as content as possible for the duration of the outing. So I pulled out the frosty and began spoon-feeding, each little mouth in turn. As I did so, I started to sing. You shall have to imagine the tune of it, as I am not gifted enough in transcribing oral tunes to written notes . . .

I like ice cream, yes I do. I like ice cream, yes it’s true.
Mommy likes ice cream, brother too,
I like ice cream, yes I do.

And so on. We added in variations and lyrics as we went. Soon, being the gifted young singer he already is, he knew the song better than I did. In fact, just now, I had to go ask him to sing the ice cream song for me as I had already forgotten it. Here’s a shot of some tell-tale ice cream covered little lips :-)


June 18, 2012

Another country. Another sort of foot photo. This evening getting a plethora of “Auntie Anna”s, along with a show of toe-curling talent . . . happy feet :-)


June 15, 2012

So it ends. A year of my life has been spent in this most unlikely of places, in this most extreme of lands. In some ways it has passed quickly. But in other ways it has been an eternity. There have been days I thought would never end; times when I knew I could not last one moment longer–could not do this work, live this life . . . and yet I have.
My ladies’ group this year has been doing a study on “Living beyond Yourself,” and even before it began I knew it was going to hit home. It did. God has, in so many ways and on so many levels, brought me to the end of myself and then carried me further on from the point at which my strength failed.
So here I stand now . . . or rather, here I fall on my knees.
I have packed up my library, packed up my home, and flown out of the country in which I have lived–lived feeling as it it is with gritted teeth and clenched fists, much of the time. Yet somehow there has been joy in the midst of it: the joy of community, of we’re-in-this-thing-together; the joy of unexpected beauty–a perfect rose; a snow-capped mountain; a hug from a child.
Yes, I have learned much of Him this year: much of His faithfulness, His care, His love. He does deal with me gently. In a land of violence and of hatred, of fear and of harshness, His hand is gentle.
In this morning’s sermon, Dave admonished us to always be ready to testify [and to remember!] God’s faithfulness in our lives. He spoke of our worship as needing to be pure. Yes, that is my prayer now as I head forward, on from this chapter of life: let my heart be pure, in pure pursuit of Him.
At the end of the sermon, during the closing song, a little girl dressed in her Sunday [Friday?] best, danced. Oblivious to the grownups “properly” worshiping around her, she twirled and leapt up and down the aisles. I stopped my own singing and watched her, smiling. That is what I have felt like this year, in my moments of joy. They have been few. But they have been more intense than at any other time in my life. They have been moments of oblivion to the reality of the world around me: moments when I have simply twirled and leapt in childlike glee.