full, filled, filling.

Where to begin with the past few weeks?  I have learned close to a million new spanish words.  I have held a sick three year old with hair so thin she looked like she was balding.  I have consumed the world's best coffee on a hammock in the morning.  I have slammed a truck door on my leg so hard it left a wound that looks like I was attacked by a stray dog (and that's the story I'm going with, actually). I have travelled through the colorful streets of Managua at night and seen poverty sleeping alongside the highway in small tin houses, on cardboard sheets.  I have eaten plate after plate of rice.  I have processed through sin and brokenness with Americans who could not believe some of these things exist.    I have played Marco-Polo with some of the best kids on the planet.

Sometimes I sit down to write all these things to you and I find myself at a loss to capture even one sliver of it.

Because there is just so much here.  There are so many stories I could share. They could be titled That Time I Met Bryan in Tipitapa, That Time I Prayed and God Answered, That Time Our Bus Got Stuck In A River Of Mud, That Time We Made Poop Jokes Before Eating Pupuseria, and on and on and on.  I have been here for several weeks and have several to go, and I feel so full already with learning and laughter and growth.  But most of all, I feel right stuck in the middle of God's plan for this world, for my life, and for the people I meet.  And that, sweet friends, is a pretty darn good place to be.

I feel myself full in the mornings, and being filled during the days, and I find myself knowing that God will continue to find space inside me to do the extra filling He needs to do -- this abundance comes through in different ways, in strange ways where I can feel Him filling me up as I ache and feel void of hope, when I am homesick or when I wonder about my usefulness.  In fact, I find in those moments where I am aware of all that I am (and that the world is) lacking -- those are the times when He chooses to pour into me exactly what I need.

And so here I may not have time to blog much and share the little details of my journey with you, but know that as you pray for me (which I know so many of you do, and for that I am eternally grateful) and for the people I get to know in this place, there is joy and grace abundantly given in response.  I can feel it settling down in my bones because of you.  What I am experiencing here, in one of the poorest places in the world, is nothing short of abundance.

Good time

I am home for a week before I head back to Nica for the rest of the summer.  And because when I'm over there my ears are full of Spanish reggatone songs I can't even begin to understand (but do genuinely love) I get a little homesick for some quality (and by quality I mean trashy) Amurrican pop music.  This one is so good that when Doogie picked me up from the airport last night I made us listen to it three times in a row.  Crank your volume and solo-DP it up! :)

la luz

Yesterday we drove in the early night down the gravel road that leads into the heart of Casa Bernabe, an orphanage where many of my favorite children in the world find a home here in Nicaragua.  There are fields that follow you along this drive, square plots of land where unknown vegetation is planted and grows up beneath the hot sun. During the day, you may be able to guess at what is growing there - plantains, young trees that will bear some sort of fruit.  But in the night, when a darkness falls, unhindered by street light, it looks more like a sea of tall grasses, vast and very quiet.  
Last night this field I pass with frequency looked as if it were sparkling with fire - hundreds of lightening bugs were hovering right at the grass line, blinking on and off like flashes of glitter in the sun.  It was a gorgeous sight: in a still blackness we could follow these lines of light all gathered in a similar space and all their own, and we could sit and watch, amazed at their volume.  

When we come here to love, we do it in small ways - we braid hair after English class, kick a soccer ball, hold a hand, make our shoulders sore and tried from piggy-back rides.  They are small things, and alone they can feel small, and the glow of them might to our eyes seem dull and incomplete.  We can grow sad that they are small, until we remember that they are love

and when we know that, we know that each of these things are glimpses of something bigger, 

we can know that each hand we are holding is a blinking light in a dark field, floating in a sea of glitter, illuminating a kingdom where the blackness is forgotten and you can stop and stare at the beauty, only able to think of the light.  

one reason I can't wait to have children:

so that I can teach them to dance like no one is...filming it to post on the youtubes for the whole world to see.

joy and chaos

hi, strangers.  I haven't blogged in awhile, have I?  each time I sit down and look at the computer screen to post something my mind just feels a little overwhelmed and like I have too many thoughts and not enough ways to say them.

life is strange right now.
Last weekend I got to celebrate my twin brother during his graduation from college. and although I technically graduated in december, my ceremony is this coming sunday, making the whole thing really feel official.  A few days after that, I will move from the house I live in with some of my favorite friends in the world and from the city I treasure in more ways than I can list.  I will walk away from the place where for the past four years I have been transformed and sanctified, educated and loved, challenged and stretched in really awesome, beautiful ways.  I will leave and head off into the next season, which currently is one big freaking question mark.  and that is my life.

I have no wisdom really, or even many complete thoughts on how to get through this weird transition that I and so many people my age are currently experiencing.  but, in typical fashion, as I was reading my bible this morning, I was hit by something that is true and that I have needed constant reminding of recently -

and that is joy.  joy in the middle of complete mysterious chaos.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 8 it says, "And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun." 

I don't have a lot to say about that, other than that is pretty serious, isn't it?  To say I COMMAND joy, not suggest it or request it.  To say that we have nothing better on this earth other than joy - that is a big deal. The bible doesn't take it lightly.    

and so that is the challenge: joy. joy in excess, joy in the face of mystery, joy in the face of endings.  because there is nothing better for me under the sun.

and so I will pursue it with all I've got.  

from death to life

Tomorrow I will stand up in front of a crowd of high school students and tell them that they are loved so much that Jesus rose from the dead for them.

This is the fourth time I've gotten to share the incredible story of the resurrection at the Young Life club I'm a leader at, and each time I have found that the event becomes more and more magical to me.  And it has also felt increasingly real.  In light of everything we know to be true about the world, Jesus rising from the dead makes very little sense.  And at the same time, it allows everything else about the promises of God and of his great love for us to make the most sense in the world.

I haven't posted a poem in awhile, but today I was in a writing mood and I wrote this one thinking about my great joy for the resurrection and for the magic and glory and deep love that goes along with it.


I have never had coffee
with or shook the hand of
someone who
will have no ending

and when I think
of all the beautiful buildings
I pass sometimes in cities
unfamiliar to me,
where I might dream of someday
making a life
for a short while,
I am reminded that they will fall,
or someone will take a cat of nine tails
and beat them into concrete dust,
splinters of wood,
and start something
new there that will also
fall eventually. 

I have considered often
how little this world
loves me
because of how little it
can stand up to dying,
and of how all these things
will make me miss them

or of how they will fool
me into a hope
that I can keep them,
and that is something
that always breaks my heart.

And so it sounds
strange to me,
the type of strange like
the colors on a patch
of wildflowers I see along
the highway, and wonder how
they exist there, and why they are
so beautiful,
to comprehend how much
it means you love me
when you didn’t end –
     and how you are like the dust
of my imagined fallen buildings
rising up again,

bearing all our stories
and footsteps
and closed doors
and quiet whispers
which stretch down each dark hallway,

and how you will hang a silent banner
across every arch
and entrance of that building
and it will say
“I love you this much.”  

letting go

In Anne Lamott's book "Grace (Eventually)", Anne describes a moment when she was trying to explain the concept of "letting go"-giving up your worries to God- to a group of 3-5 year old boys.

not the easiest crowd.

She describes it to them brilliantly though; she tells them that the process of letting go is like holding on to a bunch of pens during snack time. "What if, when we go in for our snacks, someone offers us a juice box, and I won't let go of the pens even though I am thirsty?"

I just think that's so insightful and simple - that sometimes we hold onto burdens or fears that we just don't need to keep anymore. Especially in light of the fact that we are thirsty and in need of a Savior, who can satisfy us only when we let go so we can pick up a grace that is sufficient and satisfying.