Monday, January 19, 2009

reunited. in more ways than one.

I've spent much of this week being reunited with my long-stored belongings. And it's mostly a happy reunion, except for the part where I'm a little overwhelmed by how much I still own even after all the work of purging I've been doing these past couple years. It's mostly books, though, so once those are on the shelves, the pile of boxes waiting to be unpacked will be vastly smaller. As I unpack, I'm enjoying discovering a few more things I can get rid of but am not enjoying disovering the things I did get rid of but now need again. It's much more expensive to re-buy things you once owned but don't anymore. Grrrr.... I mostly guessed right in my purging, but there are a few things I missed on. For example, is there anyone out there with an extra ironing board? :-) I sold mine at one of the myriad yard sales, and now I have an iron but no board and none available in my new home. And ironing on a desk just doesn't cut it long term. Mostly, though, I purged okay.

Today as I unpacked, I participated in a very unexpected reunion, versus all of the expected ones of the day (like the cool mugs I haven't used in ages!). You see, sometime about two years ago I purchased a ring from my sister who was selling jewelry. I loved the ring. It was the perfect style for me, and I could wear it everyday. It was one of the few pieces of jewelry I wore during my four months of travel in Africa in '07, and it was fun to enjoy something pretty. Well, fast forward to the summer of '08, and suddenly I realized one evening that my hand was naked. The pretty little ring was gone. And I had no idea where I lost it and only a slight idea of when. I looked and looked for it, but never found it. And I couldn't afford to replace it. $50 to re-buy something like that just wasn't in my budget.

I hate losing things in general and don't do it often. So it really bugs me when I do. Especially when it's something I really like. You can probably see where this is going....

Fast forward to today. When I felt like the woman from Jesus' parable in the Gospel accounts who celebrated when she found her lost coin. As I unwrapped mugs from a cardboard box, something rolled to the bottom of the box. Hoping it wasn't a piece of broken mug, I was shocked when I discovered that it was my lost-for-good ring. It's amazing what a pick-me-up it is to find something you thought you'd lost forever. I want to tell everyone that it is found, so they can celebrate with me! And now I have an object lesson every time I look at my ring-ringed finger: my joy at finding this silly little bit of lost metal is miniscule compared to Jesus' joy at welcoming new children into His fold. And as I worry and fret about checkbook balances, my ring-ringed finger is also a reminder that God isn't an austere, miserly God. He delights in giving His children good gifts, which sometimes means giving things that aren't necessities.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I've been back in the States for 2.5 weeks now. And I'm surprised. At how clear it is that it is the right decision to stay put for a while. Because I'm tired and full.

Over the years I've slowly, slowly been growing better at first recognizing and then trying to live within the boundaries and limitations inherent in humanness. This isn't an easy thing for me as I tend to live life full with poor ability to recognize it's fullness and only end up wondering why I'm so tired all the time. Until times like this when I stop for a bit and realize that for two years I've been planning major travels while simultaneously growing my freelance biz from part-time to full-time, growing into a new church community in Nashville, deepening old and new friendships, volunteering in my community and then absorbing millions of impressions and interactions as I travel around the world. Oh and trying to learn French. And accepting assignments that I've never done before and have to learn (or fake, at least that's sometimes how it feels) my way through. And trying to read more and actually being successful at that, courtesy of my book group. And trying to cook more. And any number of other things. All while living temporarily (that means home and office are on the constant move which also means constantly lining up manpower and vehicle power for shifting belongings) in one house after another.

Part of the reason I wanted to go to London this fall instead of waiting until 2009 or some other time is that I wanted to return to the States in December. I came back from Africa in December too. And the dark days and contempletive aspect that can accompany the Christmas season, Advent, is the perfect aspect to return into from a long sojourn. I am thankful that this year I didn't have any pressing work assignments during the remaining holiday season, so I could arrive back into my family's arms for Christmastime and then rest with some dear and very fun college friends in a lake cottage in northern Indiana while we rang in the New Year. I needed that time more than I even knew when I scheduled it.

And then I returned to Nashville feeling desperate to secure permanent housing, unsure how long I could muster continued survival in the land of the temporary. Though a generous friend long ago offered me a place to stay for the month of January, until I could figure out more long-term digs, I returned unsure how I could force my way through another whole month of trying to find things in packed and unpacked and repacked bags, of how I could do my work while sitting on an air mattress on a bedroom floor, and in general of how long I could hold on a little longer. The extent of this feeling has surprised me.

Thankfully, thankfully, things have come together in good fashion for me to move into good housing next week. So I've been forcing myself to hold on for just a tiny bit longer. But this is hard. I am not at rest. I am not settled. I am thankful to be able to write at all today because I haven't felt I had the capacity for writing, even for journaling, for what feels like a while but is probably only a couple weeks. Yet I am glad that the visceralness of these feelings will make the contrast of settledness so visceral too.

I am also eager to stop for a while and listen to and process all that's been poured into me these past two years. I am still in Nashville, and I am still writing, and many of my friends are still the same. Yet everything has also changed. These two years of fullness have launched new things, and I am excited to stop long enough to learn what these new things are.

I am thankful, too, for friends who affirm my weariness, who tell my always-onward self that it's okay to retreat a little for a while, who understand why all I want to do right now is sleep and read and sit with my friends.

Originally, I was planning to return to England this year, hoping to get in a full six months abroad. But over the fall months in London, though that continued to be the plan I wanted, I never felt full peace with it. So I proceeded with it until God made more clear that instead I need to stay in Nashville for a while. And as much as I would love to head back to London so soon, I've found a bit of relief in the rearranged plans, and I am very excited to participate in Nashville life through the larger eyes and heart I'm bringing back to my city. And I'm excited to trust God for all the places and people I hope to get back to some day and for all the new ones I hope for too. And I'm hoping and trusting that stopping for a while will better equip me for those places and seasons even as stopping works out it twin purposes for my right-now life too.