Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One Decade Down

Today-June 7, 2017-marks exactly ten years since I graduated from high school.
Became a "grown up"
Set out on this adventure called life.

Here's what I've learned since the moment I walked across the Boardman High School gymnasium and changed over my tassel. In a nutshell of course.

Sometimes you go somewhere and discover what you were made for...

Sometimes it takes losing things-the most precious things-the things you think you can't live without-to show you what really matters and what you're really made of. To take you to the core of you... 

Some places show you who you are...

Other places show you who you're not....

Wherever you go. 
Whatever you gain or lose along the way. 
Whatever you discover about yourself in the process. 
It's always the people that remain and that matter most. 
The things they do in your heart that cannot be undone. 
The way you can no longer imagine life before they were in it. 
Those people. 

And your faith. 

Life is a crazy ride. 
An adventure if you'll let it be. 
It's twisty and turny and predictably unpredictable. 
Locations and situations change. Miles and borders and even death come between. 
People come and go I suppose. 
The the marks they make in our hearts and our lives and the faith that we cling to when all else seems lost-broken-hopless. 
Those are the makings of one crazy beautiful story called life. 

Just a little look at what I've done with my first decade as a grown up...

Moved my life to Missouri. I promise I didn't even know where it was on the map. Best decision I've ever made. Discovered my passion and my calling and decided to pursue those and Jesus above all else. Walked away with some of my very best, lifelong friends. Traveled with them by my side and survived some of the most difficult, most heart breaking events in my life while they held me up. 

Made my way to Africa and just knew <3

Spent a summer in Chicago figuring out how to be alone with myself and really love it. Of course with these lovely people to help me when the learning wasn't fun. 

Ventured out on my own to the furthest corner of the country. 
Rented my first place. 
Planted a church. 
Became a nanny. 
Collected family from coast to coast. 
Adopted a puppy and made him my best friend. 
Found where my heart had been all along. 

Obeyed despite not understanding and moved my life to Guadalajara, Mexico to become a teacher. Discovered I am indeed not a teacher and I certainly do not enjoy living in eternal summer. But here I also found my pastoral heart and my insane love for teenagers. That mango in just the right moment is magical and that I really can sort of speak Spanish. That kids make me crazy but there is absolutely nothing else I could ever do with my life. And where I was reminded that God gives you exactly what and who you need in each and every season <3

Here's to the many more chapters in my story. 
To another decade of adventure and heart change and the fiercest faith. 

(And for the record, it was impossible to include every single beautiful human that God has used in my life along the way. This is just a very small sampling of the endless amount of people that I have been blessed enough to journey with.)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Casi la Lluvia

Just like that, it's June.

May has come and gone.

June means rain.
I can smell it. Feel it.
Last night there was even thunder and lightening.

I really don't enjoy living without rain for eight months of the year.
Of course I love sunshine, but I've always-for as long as I can remember-loved sunshine and rain equally.
And besides, sunshine is better by the sea.
I miss random, rainy Saturdays-Tuesdays. Rainy days in January and March or perhaps even June. I love the refreshing of rain. The sound of pitter patter on the roof. Flashes of light in the nighttime sky and rolling thunder that invades your heart.
I'm not made for heat. Not for desert.
Not for here.

That being said, I am an anticipator.
I love looking forward to new things.To learning more about who I am. Transition is bound to do that.
In my life until here, that was true. But MX has taught me so much more about who I'm not and I suppose confirmed on a deeper level who I already was.

Let me explain.
In MX I learned that I am not a teacher. It is not my passion.
I do not like warm climates.
I cannot be at home or fall in love with just any city.

I discovered that I am, after all, in the truest sense of the title, a pastor.
That rain is not just something I like, but something I need.
That it's not just any city but Seattle where I belong.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Lately I've been most inspired by the palm trees and my shoes.
In the most (well almost) literal ways. They've made me so reflective. Urged me to write again.
My two dollar Rue 21 sandals with the ankle straps finally broke.
Like really. Literally came apart while walking.
I remember so clearly the moment I bought them.
On my way home from a mid-winter evening shift at Bath and Body Works.
The irony.
A summer sale in the dead of the northeast Ohio winter.
Lucky for me since I was about six-ish months away from moving my life to MX-the land of eternal summer. I remember putting the outfits together in my head, imagining myself as a preschool teacher in MX.
It's crazy to think that I didn't know this version of myself yet. I could only imagine her. Wonder what she'd be like and attempt to dress her well.

Two years later, those little two dollar sandals have carried me to her.
To that version of myself that I could only imagine before. Away from family, across international borders, and up and down long cobblestone avenues. They've seen lots of snotty noses and tearful walks home. They've splashed through rainy season puddles and survived something like 30 Friday afternoons with seventh graders. They've discovered along with me my love of teenagers and mango from the street drizzled with lime.
They've carried me from who I was before MX to who I am on my way out.
They knew me then and they know me now.
I know they're just shoes, but lately the've been so profound for me.
I actually got a little choked up when I finally dropped them into the trashcan outside of my office.
I like my new sandals, but we're still getting to know each other.
I suppose it's sort of fun to imagine where these will carry me.
Out of MX.
Where Jesus walked.
Back to the roots of me in Ohio.
What I'll look like when they can't carry me any further.
And the palm trees.
The tropical sounds all around.
How strange it will be when they're gone.
I wonder if when I'm surrounded by the robins and the pines if I'll think that maybe this was all a dream...that it never happened at all.

I took this panoramic picture of Guadalajara the other day from the very top of a super Wes Anderson-y hotel. There's everything in that photo.
The tall buildings.
The palms.
The wide bright blue sky.
The warm, welcoming rainbow homes cozied together between the chaotic citiness of it all.
My friend Andres who took me in and helped me discover and love this place.
The way it's old and so new all at the same time.
Pueblo and urban jungle colliding continuously.

This city holds two years of my life-of my story-of me.
There's little pieces of me all over it.
The way I get giddy even still when I finally lay eyes on La Catedral in El Centro.
The satisfaction in stumbling upon a churro or elote stand.
That feeling of accomplishment when communication in Spanish is successful.
The way Chapultapec makes me feel like I'm almost in Cap Hill-the way it helped me realize that's where I belong-where my heart is.
The streets of El Centro in mid October when I finally knew that it's always been all along-saving girls. Ending it. When my passion and my calling to act finally found each other.
Those tiny, complicated classrooms in the heart of Las Fuentes where I understood (often sometimes the hard way) that I'm not a teacher.
Where some teenagers snuck right in and stole my heart anyways.
And the mountains. Always strong. Always present. Always surrounding.

Moving forward means new things.
Lots of new things.
And old things too.
Except even the old things are new because you're new.
You're different.
So somehow it's all new.
It means opening your heart to change.
New friendships. New surroundings. New jobs. New coffee.
It means learning new things about yourself that you didn't know before and that you couldn't possibly have discovered anywhere else.
It means being willing to evolve a little more. To suffer through the growing pains again.
To trust in nostalgia and Jesus to replant your roots. The parts of you that must remain in order to grow from here.
Taking steps. Leaps.
Means uncertainty. So much uncertainty.
About everything really, including yourself.
But it also means so much potential.
It means new favorite cafes and flavors and colors you never knew you'd fall in love with. It means new people and friendships that you won't be able to imagine your life before or without. It means new versions of ourselves.
New memories that stay behind for us to hold onto in the moving forward.
New memories to be made up ahead that will do the same for us further down the road.
New adventures to be had.
New stories to tell.
And just like that, it's June again.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I'm Certain I will Miss the Palms

I’m Certain I will Miss the Palm Trees…

I keep trying to wrap my head around it. To grasp onto the truth of it. To somehow process the fact that I’ve lived in Mexico for almost two years. That already it’s time to transition again.
It seems impossible.
It feels impossible.

I can so vividly remember that frantic morning realizing I had left my passport in a copy machine at the FedEx store just hours before I was to board a plane and move to Mexico. I remember my tiny thrift store bottle of African beach rocks shattering on the floor of the Pittsburgh airport as I fought to hold myself together just until I was out of my family’s view. 
I remember the symbolism as it shattered. 
That Africa was not for now. 
For now I was to leave that dream behind for a different one. 
Now it was time to step into uncertainty and time to trust.
Hugs. Tears. More hugs and so many more tears.
Lincoln refusing to get back into his travel carrier.
Complete breakdown in the Chicago airport. (An airport I intentionally planned to stop in on the way. My favorite airport.)
What was I doing!? Moving to Mexico? Teaching Preschool….?
One hour delay in Houston.
Two hours. Three. Five.
A long, much needed chat with my best friend in the whole world.
And then we were there.
Lincoln and I in our brand new life. That tiny, tiled, upstairs apartment with that big beautiful window with the classically Mexican view. My surprise bedroom.
It seriously seems like a week ago or so.

I remember the preparation.
Convincing my heart to change directions. Sorting through things and fitting my life and my heart into a few suitcases. 
The goodbyes.

Here we are full circle.
 It seems to be a smaller circle this time.
Back where we started.
More preparing. More transitioning. More heart steering.
So many more goodbyes. Hugs. Tears.
Uncertainty once again.

And I just keep looking up at the palm trees. 
Watching their great green leaves sway against the azul. Listening to them dance in the scorching wind.
I remember how they used to make me feel. A constant state of tropical. Like every day was vacation. The sight of them just made me giddy. 
Sandals in February a funny but lovely idea.
And then somewhere along the way, the swaying and the dancing and the sandals and the sun all just became normal.
The everyday ordinary blur of life.

Once the newness blurred into the normal, my heart began to miss what was behind. It learned to long for things that had once been ordinary. Like Autumn and easily accessible pumpkin everything Sweater weather and Target. For random rainy days and free, ice cold water. For a quick walk to the city center or a card in the mailbox. To send birthday packages or make simple calls to friends and family. To eat at Panera and then browse the Old Navy clearance racks. Family dinners on Sunday afternoons (even though I hated pretty much every place that we ate.) Four seasons. A change in the weather. The trees. My home church. 
New places make us miss the old ones. New people make us miss the ones who aren't here with us. New scenery seems to paint a more viivid picture of the old in our heads and our hearts. 
Ohio. If I'm being honest, I never thought I would miss Ohio. 
And perhaps I don't. Perhaps I miss the parts of me that are there but didn't quite make their way to here. The people that couldn't come along. 

Goodbye sheds a different light on things.
Even the palm trees.
Goodbyes force us to look a little closer.
To reflect.
To wonder.
To gather snapshots in our hearts of how we want to remember.

I am certain I will miss them when we are no longer together.

I will be more aware of the palm trees when I am surrounded by pines.
I will crave mango more intensely every Monday afternoon when it's nowhere to be found or a zilion dollars when it is. And tacos. Oh how I will miss the tacos 
I will long to remember Spanish. To speak it, when I am beginning to forget.
I will wish for sunshine (even the scorching afternoon sort) when I am covered by clouds once again. 
Someday not so far from now, everything will be new again. Sort of. And then all of the things that had become ordinary and usual and perhaps even annoying about here will look different in my memories. More vivd. More desirable. 
Because they are gone. 
Like the palm trees. 
I'm certain I will miss the palm trees. 
All that I've gathered beneath them. 
The person I've become surrounded by them.