I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. - Shauna Niequist
Monday, 2 May 2011
It's a doozy...
Prepare yourself.... it really is a doozy. And by doozy, I mean long.
Apologies for the lack of updates! I finally found some time to sit and write this morning-- I've realized that more than anything- writing helps me. It gives structure to my thought process and allows me to project a constant flow of ideas and emotions without feeling as though I am rambling on and on- burdening my listener. When I write, the only one listening is the computer- and that’s simply to hear the clicking of the letters as my words begin to take shape. Thank goodness for this. For I have a lot on my mind and little rhyme or reason to getting it out today. I apologize to those reading… yet again, this may come out a wee bit scrambled!
As many of you know, I traveled back to the States with Dana, Jim, and the girls for just under three weeks in April. While there, I spent a week at their home in the Hamptons, a weekend in New York City, and the last week with the family in Key West. Although traveling back to America was for the most part relaxing and enjoyable, I must admit- I am very happy to be back in London! I have been living in London two months now and have started getting used to things-- understanding my surroundings and little by little, am making this place my own. I couldn’t be happier to be sitting in Café Nero this morning and writing to you from my favorite chair, drinking my favorite coffee- this is familiar to me, and it tastes so good.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent the first week in America at Dana and Jim’s home in the Hamptons. Their home was stunning and located in a very quiet area… allowing for ample time to relax and spend time with my little ladies. While there, Dana’s sister, Megan and her daughters came to visit for the weekend. The two girls were born at 25 weeks and put up one heck of a fight to enter in this world. Nia and Nevy battled for 3 ½ months in an incubator before walking out the hospital doors as healthy babies.
As I listened to Megan tell the story of their birth, I couldn’t take my eyes off the two little ones in front of me- precious and perfectly healthy. More than once, I felt my eyes sting with the onset of tears and my insides being ripped between joy and sadness, heartache and thankfulness. These girls have seen and experienced more traumas in their few months of life than many see throughout their entire lives. I ached not only for their little bodies, but for their parents as well. To see Megan’s strength behind her words and pride when looking upon her girls, gave me the chills. She’s overcome more than I can imagine and has come out believing in the best. Their story is one of determination and tenacious hope- one that deserves to be told.
Since it’s often difficult for me to explain my train of thought… here’s a glimpse of my journal the night they left.
One simple statement Megan said has gotten my wheels turning all weekend. She mentioned the ‘purpose’ of Nia and Nevy and her belief that they are destined to do great things in this world. They must be. Having gone through hell to get here- they were put on this earth for a reason. With Your help, they fought to stay.
After Megan mentioned this, I was consumed with the thought of one’s ‘purpose’ and the plan You have for each of us. You made these two with intention… You knit them together in their mother’s womb and their lives were written before time. It was not a mistake or tragedy that they were born early, it was their time- one that You appointed for them. It is part of their life story- the prologue to their novels.
I’m beginning to grasp this concept- that you’ve made every one of us with intention and have a purpose for each of our lives. I used to think that I needed to find my ‘purpose’ in life- that’s how I could finally identify myself, define who I am… it would give me meaning. You are teaching me that I am not just made for one thing, one grandiose idea that You came up with one day. But rather, that my life has a new purpose everyday. At the brink of every sunrise, at the breath of each new morning- I am sustained once more for a specific reason... for a purpose that You have set apart for me.
As I was looking into Nevy's eyes this afternoon, it hit me. For today, that was it- exactly why I was there. My purpose was small, yet ever so meaningful. It was merely to love them, to cherish them, to whisper prayers into their little ears. For that moment in time, they beheld Your image to me- pure, unblemished and perfect in every way. You gave me the honor to be Your hands and share in Your love for them- to be their caregiver and comforter.
I’m learning that as much as I love traveling and serving you around the world- I don’t have to be in a third world country to feel your pain and your heart for Your. You give that freely, no matter where I am. The thought that Your Spirit lives within me is one of the most incredible ideas to ponder… You are with me and in me wherever I go, whatever I do. When you say, ‘I am with you always, until the very end of age’.... I believe you.
I believe that You give us different purposes for different seasons, some big- others small. Right now, I am focusing on the small. Doing my best to wake up each morning and ask what is Your will for me today? How will You use my life? Then actively seek that out. I think that too often we look past how You use us everyday. We forget that we are here for a reason, each of us. We look beyond the smile given to a stranger, the hug to a loved one, the simple acts of kindness that we show- what if that alone was our purpose for the day and we’ve passed it by?
Our purposes for living and our reasons for life will never be fulfilled until the day You call us home. I don’t believe that a day of our lives will go wasted or be lived in vain if we are living for You. Somehow, someway- Your work is being done. You make all things good.
And that’s it, a lesson from these little ones. I'm sorry it was nothing clever... no hitch or climax- just my thoughts, streaming out into a blur of black and white… or white and green in this case.
New York City
Allow me to first say how utterly blessed I am to have the sisters that I do. Honestly, they are two of the greatest women I know. If I haven’t told you already, Nay and Kiki flew to New York for the weekend so that I could spend my birthday weekend with them! The thing is, my sisters aren’t the best because they flew a few hundred miles to make sure I didn’t turn 23 alone… my sisters are phenomenal women for countless reasons. I truly do not know what I would do or who I would be without their relentless love and support in my life. I wish I had more words to describe how blessed I am. They deserve it- they deserve the world. Since I can remember, Renee and Kristen have always made me feel special- always making sure I knew how valued and appreciated I am. In hard times, they've been there. I am so pleased that now, in the best times of my life, they are still here- encouraging my every move. Gosh, I just can’t get over how lucky I am to have them in my life. That not only are they a part of my life- but they are a part of me. The Lord chose to weave me into an incredible family and I will forever be grateful!
Moving on… while in NYC, we stayed with some of Kristen’s AMAZING friends in Manhattan. I couldn’t thank these women enough-- not only opening their homes, but the city to us as well! Rather than bearing all the gory details of the weekend, I’ll simply provide you with the itinerary for each day…
Devoted to exploring NYC! (my first time)
Walk through Central Park
Toured the MET
Created the ‘58th St Dragon’ at Bill’s
Took a peak at Rockefellar
Shopped (just a little, Mom) at Banana… we couldn’t resist!
Saw the lights of Time Square
Birthday dinner at Wo Hop (I’ve been missing my Sesame Chicken and Fry Ry)
Spent the rest of the evening celebrating on the town!
All you can drink Mexican buffet at Vamos!
Birthday celebrating and daytime drinks on Lisa’s rooftop!
Skyline sunset to conclude a wonderful day!
Car pick up at 6am.. WAY too early for Lindsey.
Departure back to nanny life
My last week in the US was a little more difficult than the rest. As many of you know, I'm interviewing for position at a school in Grand Rapids for this coming Fall. While in Florida, this interview was the small chip that began an avalanche of emotions. As I was filling out my application for this position, I found myself stuck at the question: how does this position fit into your short term and long term goals? That’s when it hit me. Ut-oh... I don’t have any goals right now! How is this job going to fit into a place in my life, when I’m not sure that place even exists? Where do I want to go after London? Where do I see myself in 10 years? Is this position even right for me? Am I cut out to be a teacher? What if I don’t have what it takes? I’m only 23, do I really want to move back to Grand Rapids right now and settle down? Ah, am I signing my life away?
After one big breakdown on the porch in Key West, and a few big conversations with loving and influential people -- the chains began to loosen, my breathing began to slow, and the tears in my eyes began to cease. I was reminded once again that although these feelings are okay to feel and visit- I cannot allow them to control who I am, my actions, or decisions. At the time, I felt alone and unable to hear God’s voice in the situation- to me, that’s what scared me most.
While my mind was spinning, I kept thinking about my life in America- full of responsibilities and things to check off my ‘life to-do list’. You know… the ‘go to college, get a job, pay off student loans, find a home, a husband, build a family, and live happily ever after’ checklist. Although it’s a very appealing list- and eventually all things I would love to accomplish… I just don’t think that is my list right now.
I asked a friend a while ago what made him come alive- what made him feel free and like he was truly living. When he returned the question to me, it once again, got my wheels turning... What does make me come alive? I began to compile a list and found that I feel most alive when I can see love in action. Whether that’s through traveling, worshiping, working with people who have special needs, spending time with loved ones, writing or exploring—all of those things make me feel as though I am truly living! They are what gets me going, what makes me light up, what fuels me.
To tie this all together…these are the things I want on my checklist- the things that make me come alive! I want to walk through this life knowing that I, myself, am a glimpse of God’s love in action. Now can this be done while crossing off the checklist I mentioned earlier? You bet, and someday I will… just not today.
If I’m going to be completely honest and vulnerable with you… I have no idea what I’m going to do when Fall rolls around. I have no idea where in the world I will be. In fact, I’m still uncertain of what exactly my short term and long term goals are. But what I’m realizing is that is ok! Just because I don’t have a plan right now, doesn’t mean that I’m drifting or wandering- it doesn’t mean that I am running from something. I’m not denying my responsibilities when I come home- but I am exploring all the opportunities layed out before me. I am 23 years old- exploring the world, loving to the best of my ability, and choosing to walk by faith and not by sight.
Those last few days in Florida, the Lord confirmed the lesson he’d begun teaching me in the Hamptons… To stop searching for my purpose in the future and begin acknowledging my purpose in each day. To move one step at a time and trust him with the next. When the time is right, I believe He will lead me and guide me. He will not let me drown in the crashing waters of life or the storms yet to come.
Much like many of my lessons, this one in particular was brought forth in a tangible way- one that helped me understand God's heart and perspective. Surprisingly enough my teacher in this lesson was little miss Victoria. Who wouldn’t want to learn a few things from someone as cute as this?
Victoria offered a glimpse of God's perspective whenever we would climb into the pool together. Here she would cling- in fear that I might let go of her or the waves would eventually consume her. I almost couldn’t help but giggle whenever she did this. In my mind, I would do everything in my power to hold her and protect her. Letting go was out of the question. As much as I wanted to show her this and make her believe me- there was nothing else I could do. It killed me that she was too blinded by fear to just trust me. I tried my hardest to tell her and hoped she would understand. The best I could do was hold her close and whisper in her ear; do not fear, I am here, trust me, I will take care of you, I will protect you, I will hold you up.
This is where the lesson portion comes in. Those simple words to Victoria parallel with our Father’s words to us in Isaiah:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
…Often times I read the Bible and have a hard time connecting with what the scriptures are portraying, or the perspective of which the Lord is speaking from. However, after my lessons with Victoria- God’s words took root and came alive before my eyes.
In short, this is how I learn. This is my thought process and how I’ve found that God talks to me. It’s not always clear; in fact- it’s quite messy. But I believe that as long as I keep my heart open and seek His truth and voice in every situation… He will continue to teach me. (We all know I have a lot more to learn!) Maybe I couldn’t hear God’s voice regarding my future, because he was subtly moving in other ways… just none that I was looking for.Sometimes we're quick to say that God isn’t there simply because we are looking for him in all the wrong places- when most times, He’s ministering to us in the most obvious ways.
My second holiday in London, and Lindsey is still flyin solo! Again, I would feel sorry for myself had I not taken advantage of this alone time! Although I thoroughly missed spending Easter with my family and having a massive meal with loved ones- I was content this year with going to church and treating myself to an Easter lunch with the Big Man. For probably the first time, I spent my Easter day diving into the Word and relishing in the meaning of what Easter is all about. Of course I’ve heard the shpeel countless times over the years- but this was the first that I went in with intention and determination to find revelation. At the end of the day, I felt like a child all over again, like I had rediscovered God’s love for me, and the reality that He died for me. He knew what He was getting into when He wrote my name in Heaven, and He gladly bore my sins anyway… that’s just crazy!
That Sunday was an incredible reminder of how big God is and how little we are. So often I take for granted the sacrifices He’s made for me.. for all the awful things that I’ve done and pain that I’ve caused. I’m forgiven. That’s reality and it’s a beautiful thing. Certainly something that deserves more than just one church service or day of thanksgiving and praise. He deserves all my heart, all the time. It’s good to be reminded of that.
Ze Royal Wedding
For those of you who have asked, no I did not attending the Royal Wedding, and no my invitation did not get lost in the mail. Sadly, Parliament requested I stayed away from the wedding… they simply didn’t want me stealing the thunder of the William and Kate. I suppose I can share the lime light for just one day!
Seeing as I had to work on Friday, I didn’t have the chance to walk down to Buckingham, Westminster, or The Mall. However, I could hear the crowds loud and clear when I stepped outside the house! The streets of London were painted in British flags, banners, balloons, and posters congratulating the couple on their marriage. There were block parties and festivals everywhere- you could hear the broadcast coming from every pub, restaurant, and home window you walked past! It’s hard to really even describe the hype over here- it was quite insane!
Since I was unable to celebrate with the masses during the day, I spent my evening with a few friends celebrating the nuptials of our royal mates….
So… this has been an incredibly long post and I apologize, once again for the lack of excitement--- however, you knew what you were getting into when reading! I'm sorry if sometimes it seems like I'm preaching more than I am story telling... it's just- those are the things that are on my heart right now... I'm a better story teller in person anyways :) Maybe that will give you some incentive to Skype? Yes, I'm talking to you.