It’s Raining…Fish?! (And other “life is sideways” tales)

 

Last week, I can honestly say I’m not really sure why I was so incredibly busy…too busy to write, apparently. Looking back at my calendar, I had a date with my hubby (who was blissfully home most of the week), a doctor’s appointment, and…? Nothing else there. But life was apparently too much to take time to write. Sorry.

Sunday was a rainy day. Off and on showers most of the day, a rather unusual and comfortable August high in the upper 80s, and then some really impressive thunderstorms at night. I discovered that our sweet young aussiesoodle doesn’t mind storms, but incessant thunder and eye piercing lightning through every window for over 30 minutes is way more than she can handle. She put herself to bed an hour early in order to try and hide from the chaos of the skies.

Monday we awoke to fresh, clean air, free of dust or ragweed and a light, sunny breeze. Our morning walk was a pleasure. Until we discovered the fish. Yes, you heard me—fish. On the sidewalk. Two of them. One appeared to be a small bluegill, about four or five inches long. The other wasn’t much more than an inch, fatter than most minnows I’ve seen, but not as long as many.

These two fishy specimen were laying on the sidewalk as we walked along our neighborhood route. Our city neighborhood. Not the walk on the other side of our major city street that takes us to the park…and the river. No. The lined with houses and apartments, there’s no water near here, sidewalk. The one that runs next to a parking lot which runs alongside the road. Hardly any grass, much less water, sidewalk. Two fish. Side by side. About five feet apart, lying in dampness left by the rain. Seriously?! Since when does it rain fish?

This anomaly got me thinking about life. About how sideways life can get sometimes. How sideways my own life has been these past months. How I’m trying desperately to find balance in a sideways world, and most days it can’t be found. At least not easily. It’s like trying to find fish on a sidewalk. Well, maybe not that easy after all.

In the middle of all this fish fun, my sons and I began to notice that our sweet, young, not quite five month old puppy is showing obvious signs of becoming very interested in the opposite sex. Wait. What?! She won’t turn FIVE months until tomorrow, and absolutely EVERYONE has assured me she won’t reach “maturity” before she’s six months, at the very earliest!!! Surely we must be reading her signals incorrectly?

After a trip to the vet yesterday, I discovered my farm upbringing has served me well—I do in fact know the early signs of a dog coming in heat. So our sweet little sweetheart (who, by the way, is currently not so overly sweet due to raging hormones) will be having surgery next week. One month before originally scheduled.

And this weekend, my youngest son heads to Indianapolis to start his life as an adult.

The constant craziness of life in the real world. It never ends. Living life sideways. I can’t seem to find a level path anywhere these days. Life continues to throw me curve balls, like fish on the sidewalk. Everything seems to be just a little off balance.

I know that for my own inner well-being, silence, solitude, and stillness are key. I also know that in the fast-paced world we live in, these things don’t come easily. And in some seasons of life they aren’t found at all. I remember the early days of parenting, when our home was filled with the laughter and screams of small boys. Those needed moments of stillness and silence were indeed rare—and greatly treasured. I look back on those days with much fondness, but know in my heart that I’m thankful we are now in a new season of parenting.

But the worries and cares of this new home, as well as the added joyful burden of an extremely energetic—and currently emotionally volatile—young pup are reminding me of those sideways days of young motherhood. I find my energy, my emotional stability, my inner peace, all but extinct. Little things make me snap. There is little silence, much less stillness, to be found. And little time to close my mind and contemplate the Creator who made me and loves me enough to die for me.

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Isaiah 12:2 NIV

These words speak volumes to my weary soul. “Be still…” The means by which I have always found Him. Even when I don’t realize I’m seeking Him. If I can find stillness, He meets me in my need. My cup of peace is once again filled.

While the boys were small, I had to learn to snatch brief moments of stillness in order to maintain any inner—or outer—peace. I wasn’t always (hardly ever) good at it. I tend to be a nurturer by nature, and everyone else’s needs are seen as far more important than my need for quietude.

As my boys grew, and I found myself with longer stretches of stillness, I learned to soak in His serenity. Today I once again find myself in a season where I must learn to snatch and jealously protect the brief moments of hushful calm; and I’m once again learning that I don’t think of myself and my own needs enough.

As I looked down at those oddly placed fish, I felt their angst—much more than they did, as they were already long dead. I understood what it meant to be a fish out of water. When I don’t fill my cup by spending time with my Savior, I find myself gasping for breath, breathing foreign particles of stress instead of the life-giving, life-sustaining peace He brings.

The beauty of this moment as I sit writing is that the sweet young, ever wakeful, ever in motion pup was sitting quietly chewing her bully stick as I began. The silence of the normally noisy street outside, the quiet droning of the robotic vacuum inside, and my seeming inactivity has lulled the beautiful beast to sleep. The first real rest she’s had in days. My friends, we all need a little stillness and silence in our chaotic lives. May you, too, find yours.

 

 

The Sky’s the Limit

At the beginning of the year I mentioned that I was wanting to focus on the concept of rest throughout the year. It’s now the end of July and As I sat down to write this I realized that rest is one of those illusive things in my world. Something I desperately crave but don’t often attain.

However, last week I spent five amazing days with two of my dear friends on a girls’ beach trip. That my friends, filled my heart with boundless peace!

We spent joyous hours on the beach, soaking up the sun and listening to the waves. We swam in the salt water. We walked miles along the different shops, enjoying conversation and laughs. We delighted in the views from a Ferris wheel, complete with an after storm rainbow. We were thrilled watching the dolphins playing along the beach outside our balcony window each morning, as well as getting a closer view of their beauty on a dolphin cruise. By far, however, the highlight of our trip—excluding the gift of time spent together—was the morning we spent parasailing. Yes, I said that right. I went parasailing. Me. The “afraid of heights,” “not so thrilled with deep water” girl that I am, I went parasailing—and thoroughly loved every single minute!

As we lifted up off the boat, it was as if I was being lifted right out of the cares and worries of the world, no longer weighed down by the stresses of this heavy earth. Weightless and free in an almost silent tranquility, floating high above the ocean. Watching the play of light and shadow as the sunlight glistened off the ocean waves was captivating. Observing a sea turtle swimming through the glimmering water was mesmerizing. The peacefulness enveloped us like a warm, safe blanket. The freedom of the open air was intensely gratifying. Our time in the sky was way too short, and so beautifully serene that I could have stayed up there all day. All week. For an eternity.

The beauty of this gift of flight was in the fact that the release from cares continued long after our feet returned to terra firma. In fact, I’ve now been home for a full week and can still close my eyes and relive the joyful serenity of those moments in the sky. The peace, the silence, the freedom. The rest. For those few brief moments I truly understood what rest means, what it brings to the body, mind, and soul.

Sometimes, rest requires a change. A change of pace, a change of routine, a change of thought. And sometimes, extraordinary, out of the ordinary, exhilarating experiences can actually bring rest.

 

Where Has the Year Gone?

One year ago this week, my home for sixteen years was wrapped up, boxed, bagged, and loaded into a moving van to head half way across the country—back to my childhood home of Texas. It was to be our homecoming. Our empty nest years to enjoy each other in a fun and vibrant city setting—a big change for this country girl married to the traveling boy with Kentucky farm roots. A change we were more than ready to explore.

This move has been the move that keeps on giving…and giving…and giving…until it hurts. Until it hurts beyond all proportions of what should have been the actual stress involved in this kind of move. The pain it has caused has been interminable. The stress of continual workers in and out of a house that should have been finished months ago continues ad nauseam.

The move that should have been a welcoming embrace to everything new and exciting has become a nightmare into the reality that is home building in today’s world of dwindling craftsmen. I could take this written thought in many different directions: the dying art of skilled tradesmen; the ineptitude and apathy of the average worker today; the callousness of corporations unable and/or unwilling to adequately meet the needs of the customer; a housing industry that has lost sight of the basic goal of building solid homes for the homebuyer; the high cost of not doing your work right the first time (or three) you attempt it.

While these are all very worthy topics of conversation—topics which really should be discussed at length, if we ever want to get a sense of “pride in workmanship and a job well done” back in our world today—but these are not the topics I wish to address today.

This is my one-year anniversary to my move “back home,” and the name of my blog, as well as my nom de plume for these past nine years, has been GlimpseJoy; so I am not going down the very slippery, slimy, depressing slope those topics could—and will—take me down.

After one entire year of living within the deepest darkest realms of this nightmare existence, I would like to step just outside and examine it from a slightly different angle. The angle through which I normally assessed my world, prior to this deep invasion of the soul. Trying to glimpse the joy in the midst of this chaos we call life. And this has been a quite chaotic year, to say the least, so glimpses might be all there are to be found. Maybe.

This move has drained me of much of my ability to express myself in the written word so there have been no blog posts about it. Thus my silence during the year was supposed to see renewed activity on this site. However, Brad and i both have shared a few of the shenanigans on Facebook, and if you have not followed along there, I will try to concisely list the facts of these past twelve months, before moving on to the purpose of this meandering of thoughts. I warn you, this is a story difficult to condense—please bear with my lengthiness. It is an entire year, after all.

First, envision three cars loaded with suitcases and belongings heading across the country in convoy—me alone with an extremely distressed cat, then each of our youngest two sons following closely behind. Happily contemplating a short ten days in a hotel before moving into our brand new home. A phone call mid-trip (literally mid-trip in mid-Mississippi) with the builder apologetically announcing that the home won’t be ready in ten days—more like 2-3 weeks…they say. It seemed the stair treads were not ordered in the proper time to install, but all else is on schedule…they say. The dozen or more delays prior to this point left us somewhat skeptical of the veracity of their timeline.

Skepticism was good. Upon arrival we discovered the house was missing way more than the stair treads. Very little had been accomplished in the month since we had last visited. There was at least six weeks of work left to be done before the home would be able to pass any inspections of occupancy. They agreed to pay to store our furniture for a month and find us a furnished apartment so we weren’t crammed into a hotel for the entire month. Well golly, wasn’t that nice of them?!

The apartment they picked was shady, to say the least. A rapid rundown of our days  apartment included a water heater fire—with all our belongings forever smelling of acrid electrical smoke; my car being broken into and Joshua’s car being stolen, inside a gated parking lot.

Back to the house. The first three weeks we were in Texas NO work was done on our house. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. On the house that only needed stair treads but actually needing flooring, and tiles, and cabinets, and landscaping—way more than stair treads—absolutely no work was even started during the first three weeks after we arrived in mid-July. Infuriating is a word you could use to describe it, but it falls way short of the mark.

It soon became abundantly clear we were not going to close at the beginning of August, their new promised date. Whenever we confronted the builders on this reality they continued to assure us it would definitely close the first week of August. Until one day about three days before their August 8 date, when I firmly (and emotionally) confronted them and told them I knew this was not happening and all I wanted was their honesty—for once. They finally capitulated and said it would be more like the end of August. August 28, to be precise. The reality that they actually had a date for the closing led us to understand they had known this all along but were unwilling to admit it to us. Why? Who knows. Apparently, Lying About Everything 101 is taught to all home building employees before they learn anything else. Even before learning how to actually build a house—if they ever learn that remains to be seen.

At our final walk-through the day of the actual closing—the Monday after Hurricane Harvey ripped through the state—it was clear the home was still not ready (no surprise as we had been walking through on a daily basis since our arrival in mid-July) and many things still needed to be finished or repaired, but at this point we were kind of between a rock and a hard spot.

So we agreed to close with the contingency that they would continue to work on our house after we moved in to make it right. This work has continued to this very day, one year after our move from Georgia, as we await the tile installers to come and repair the tile in the entryway, as well as re-grout the guest bathrooms—again.

This past year has been filled with appointments, arguments, and days of workers in and out all day, as well as a five week period where they packed up our belongings and moved us out completely in order to rip out all the flooring, half of the walls in the second floor, a leak in the master bedroom ceiling, and replace an improperly installed support beam—as well as a plethora of smaller items to numerous to even remember, much less list. However, the five weeks were apparently not long enough and while we are now back in the house and trying to once again settle in, we continue to have almost daily visits of workers of one sort and another. Not to mention the fact that their movers scratched, dented, and battered much of our brand new furnishings.

In a nutshell, that seemingly exhausting list is really a mere sampling of what we’ve endured in these past twelve months. Needless to say, exhaustion is the best word to express most of what we’ve been feeling along the way. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.

But this really isn’t what I wanted to focus on today. Today I wanted to look back at the mess that has been this past year and try to salvation something from the wreckage of all these “wasted” months. Today I am choosing to glimpse those moments of joy that popped up along the way…and amazingly enough they really were there if we chose to tiptoe tall and pull our head far enough above the chaos and look out over the edges of insanity that surrounded our immediate day to day.

Joy. What joy, you ask?

For one, the endless wide open skies I get to see each and every day. I grew up with these miles and miles of blue as my constant companion, and while I loved the hills and trees of the north Georgia mountain region, my heart sings to be once again surrounded by a daily diet of never ending skies. Even the stormy skies and winter laden grey skies hold endless fascination for me. No trees block my view here. My bedroom window faces the eastern sky and through my solar blinds I am greeted by the Texas sunrise most every morning.

Also, this country girl LOVES living in the hustle and bustle of the city. And while San Antonio isn’t the largest metropolis around, it’s plenty big enough for me—with the ability to walk to the park, the zoo, the botanical gardens, a few shops and restaurants, the riverwalk, the museum, the jazz club, and still feel as if I’m off in a quiet suburb when I’m at home. Downtown, with all it’s crazy tourist chaos and the heart of the riverwalk is just a couple miles away, the airport is a ten minute drive from our door, and most other areas of the city are within a twenty minute drive in all directions.

The joy of being back in my home state is a constant reminder of why we’ve suffered this craziness in the first place. I can honestly say I truly loved the almost six years we were in New Jersey. And our sixteen years in Georgia left us with beautiful memories and amazing friends. But after 21 years away, both of us knew it was time to return and make Texas our home again. It just felt right. Despite all the turmoil, tension, and turbulence we still know this move was the right thing for us. It’s just time to be home.

There is always joy in friendship and we have had this in abundance during these past months. Our little “subdivision” is twenty-two houses strong, and quite frankly, they are all really nice people. We look forward to having more time to get to know them all better. We have taken a special liking to a couple of families who moved in around the same time as us and had similar, although not as extensive, issues. We have had several dinners, outings, and many chance meetings to commiserate, complain, compare, and even chuckle over our myriad problems. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each other and our new community together. 

There are also friends from our past that we are slowly getting reacquainted with, and a few new friends, too. Overall, people have brought much joy to us in this crazy year. People have also been what has brought so much of the anguish and sorrow of these past months, it’s true; but for each person who has reminded me just how apathetic and selfish humans can be, there has always been multiple people to remind me of the loving goodness that fills them, as well. 

God has been beside us each and every step—even when it’s so dark that it’s hard to realize. This year hasn’t been easy. I haven’t made a very pretty picture of “faith in the midst of…” on any given day during this ordeal. I can honestly say that, for whatever reason, this season has been even more difficult—in its own way— to walk through than the cancer that started my blog nine years ago. But even on my worst days (and there were 365 of those), I do know He has covered us in His love and walked with us through the darkest days. And He will walk with us all the way to the end of this season and into the next—which we pray will be a little (or alot) less chaotic; but even if it isn’t I know He will guide us if we just remember lean on Him.

We also have the added joys of two darling animals to share our days. Alfred has been my constant friend throughout his six years of life, and this past year we have become comrades in arms against the continual onslaught of workers. Now we have been joined by our little Schatzi, an Aussiedoodle puppy we insanely adopted a month ago, while moving back into the house. (Who even contemplates that kind of absurdity?) But in midst of the distraction of housebreaking and puppy antics, she has brought her own brand of comfort to us all. She is a bundle of boundless energy and sweet-tempered love, overwhelming all of us with both from sunrise til sunset.

Finally, and not least of all, there’s the daily joys of continued life and health (definitely tempered by long-term stress, but still healthy enough) to be thankful for each day. There’s a roof over our heads—even though at times we’ve wondered if it would cave in on us if we walked too hard across the room; there’s food on the table; and family. Every breath we get to breathe is a joy to hold dear, and some days we even remember to be grateful for that blessing.

This little post has taken most of the week to get written, and now I must sign off as I am once again supervising the tile guys who have come to fix the tiles they messed up Wednesday while fixing the tiles. I truly can’t make this stuff up.

And the beat goes on!

Rest

Did you know that there are 37 definitions for the word, REST, in the dictionary? Thirty-nine if you count the two additional definitions for the idioms, “at rest” and “lay to rest” and an additional four definitions if you include the noun and verb usage that imply “rest” as meaning  the remainder of something. That’s a total of 43 possible definitions for the one word, REST. Who knew?

Point being, of the 37 definitions of the primary usage of the word REST, there is one prevailing theme—tranquility and refreshment.

For instance, definition one of the noun form is “the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep.” Then there’s my personal favorite: “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.” Now who doesn’t want that, right?

Rest has been on my mind a lot these past months—often as a cry for someone to give me a month alone on a deserted island—yet never quite so much as in the past two weeks, as I’ve struggled between the joyful chaos of a full house during the holidays and the personal immobilization of two illnesses in rapid succession—literally the bread for the sandwich of my holiday fun.

Lying in bed nursing the flu this weekend, I thought of the coming new year—the year that is now upon us. 2018. Each year for the past several, I have chosen a word to focus on. Sort of my guiding thought for that year. An area I want to grow in, learn more to be like, learn more what it means to have. I have chosen such words as joy and accept and grow and hope. The final half of 2017 has been so crazy that the thought of even thinking of a word to focus on seemed like way too much work for an already overloaded mind. And then I found myself in bed during the final week of 2017, with nothing but time. And my word for 2018 just seemed to fall in my lap. REST.

It’s what we all crave, isn’t it? Even when we aren’t sick. Refreshment, repose, tranquility? Relief from the things that weary and trouble us?

Remember, there are over 37 definitions for the word, REST. Should be plenty of food for thought for the next twelve months. Right off the top of the list, I see several definitions that have to do with shelter and support. Take definition 10, for example: “a place that provides shelter or lodging for travelers, as an inn.” Or 11, which states, “any stopping or resting place.” This is where my new word takes direct aim at my weary heart.

What is our faith for if not for that? A stopping or resting place? A place to find refreshment and repose…tranquility of soul and mind. Jesus offered this to us when He offered to carry our burdens. (Matthew 11:28) But how often do we really lean into this promise? Really?!

I know for myself I have tried way too hard over these last many months to fight the battles life has dished without leaning on His guidance and peace. Without stopping to seek His rest, His refreshment.

I am not sure what kind of year 2018 will be…I learned enough in 2017 to not try and guess the temperature of the year by the heat of my own hopes and desires (you might rightly guess that my toes are currently freezing underneath my desk as I type these references to temperature—sorry, my new home is poorly insulated). After all, I thought 2017 was going to be a stellar year. Well, it was stellar, as in brilliant, but not necessarily as a shining beacon of joy. More like a flaming meteor barreling down to explode all over my universe in a cosmic display of discord. I digress.

So what will 2018 bring? The one thing I know it will bring is more confusion and chaos in my home—while the builders try to right all the many wrongs they managed to build into one small house. That thought does not make my flu-fighting, world-weary body any less tired or rested. In fact, quite the opposite.

So REST is the word I choose for 2018. Because I know I need to constantly recenter my eyes, my heart, my focus on the One true source of rest in the crazy, chaotic, world I live in. I need to fully understand what rest is and how He provides it for me…for all of us. And most importantly, I need to fully surrender that part of myself that refuses to let go and let Him handle the stress of the cares of the world, while I get on with the day-to-day living. REST.

While the world is building castles out of sand, creating mountainous to-do lists with their New Year’s resolutions, my resolution is simple. REST. Find refreshment in the arms of Jesus. And hold tight and close to that refreshment, even during the storms that come. Because storms always come. Even when you don’t expect them. Even when the skies are clear. And rest is always needed in order to be strong enough to weather them.

And now, I’m going to sign off…and go rest. Happy 2018!

It’s a Brand New Day!

Brand New DayWow! It’s been over a year since I visited this place. My blog site. The place where I open up and share my world with…the world. Where I explore the inner thoughts and emotions of life after cancer. It almost seems silly in some ways to say that. It has, after all, been over 5 years since my cancer diagnosis, and almost 5 years since the end of treatment–and the beginning of a new life. Long enough that the new life is no longer all that new.

And anyway, it’s the same old life, isn’t it? Still me. Still married to same wonderful pilot. Still mom to the same four amazing sons. Still live in the same house in the same town. Still friend to many of the same people and attending the same incredible church. And still have the same faith in the same Heavenly Father.

But in many other ways, I am not the same. Life truly is a great big adventure–each day is a brand new moment. I do sometimes–way too many times–fall back into the old routine of taking each day for granted. Each relationship as a mundane, same-old-same-old experience. But when that attitude creeps in now, it is rapidly followed by the amazing thought that I could be not here. That this day could have not been given to me, after all.

When that reality hits, I try to weigh the things I do against this one thought: what good is this day doing me or someone else? Am I growing as a person/mother/wife/friend/daughter of God? Am I making a difference in my own life/the life of someone else/the world? When the things I’ve been doing no longer rank high on this scale, I try to take note of that fact and change the course I’m on. Because in the giant scheme of things, life is really all about relationship and growth. And if you’re not building relationship, if you’re not making the world/yourself/others better by the things you do, then you’re helping them to rot. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing to be doing with the days we’re given. I know that it’s not the course I want to take.

One thing I’ve realized during this year off from blogging is that you sometimes have to look backward in order to grow forward. What?! I’ll try to explain. Sometimes you reach a point in life when you have to open up your life, take a deep, long look at what’s buried underneath in order to move past and fully live the life to come. Or even just to fully live the life you have at this moment.

I know that many people today–and always–have felt that looking at the past is needless and unnecessary. That it’s all in the past and you should just move forward, look ahead, and keep moving on. But I’ve now lived almost 51 years and I’ve discovered that sometimes there are things hidden deep within, buried deep beneath the surface of our thoughts that fester. We don’t always know they’re there, but they are. And just like a splinter broken under the surface of the skin, they begin to rub and irritate and infect everything we do and think, even though we can’t remember them.

This is the place I’ve found myself these past months–sifting through hidden splinters of my life. I’ve tried to keep them buried, but they finally began festering and infecting my world to the point that I must dig deep beneath the surface in order to lift them out and heal the wounds they’ve caused. If I don’t, my entire world will become septic.

When a localized infection invades the blood stream and spreads the infection throughout the entire system–a state of sepsis–this is to be septic. And it can be deadly. This is also what happens when a tiny–or not so tiny–fragment of memory is allowed to lodge within the mind for long periods of time, without being dealt with properly. And after fighting breast cancer five years ago, I decided that my world would no longer be filled with infection or inflammatory components; it will be filled with growing things, healthy things. Thus, all the septic-inducing splinters must go.

So once again, I find myself on a journey. Once again, it is the journey of discovering wholeness–this time of the mind. I once again need the comfort and assistance that writing brings–join me if you want. I welcome your company. I guarantee it will be an adventure. Not always pleasant or sunny, but my heart is always filled with the ultimate joy that comes from my faith in God and His loving guidance; so I know that even in the midst of the roller coasters ahead, there will be moments–glimpses–of joy along the way. Join me and we’ll glimpse them, together.

Live Life Like You Mean It–Even If It Gets Messy

2013-09-27handsI’m a crowd watcher. As a rather introverted individual, I find crowd watching much preferable to actually drawing people into open conversation–much less threatening to my quiet and mundane existence, I guess. It also entails a lot less energy and allows you to stay comfortably in the middle of your comfort zone; no messy entanglements involved.

On my studio wall, I have a card, signed by dozens of friends and given to me after my cancer treatment. The card reads: “Life–live like you mean it,” and was given to me by a very dear friend–the only known-by-me person who went on my recent adventure to Kenya–my dear friend, Jenn. It was the motto I wanted to live by after facing down death, in the form of cancer, almost four years ago.  And yet, somehow, I’m still just watching crowds.

Jenn and I left the Atlanta airport around 1pm, and then landed in Newark to connect with four of the other women on the trip–our leader was already in Kenya awaiting our arrival.

After we met up with Sheri, she and Jenn carried on a lively getting-to-know-you kind of conversation as we ate lunch–and I watched the crowds. I conversed only enough to not seem too distant, rude or uninterested; after all, as a crowd watcher, Jenn and Sheri were definitely part of the overall observation experience and I was quite interested in their conversation as well as the crowds around us. Just not to the point of entering their sphere of intimacy, I guess.

Besides, I was thrilled with the crowd I was watching. Still in my own country, just a few hundred miles from where I live, I was watching a tiny microcosm of the greater world. People from all walks of life, in all kinds of costume, with all kinds of interesting behaviors had gathered in this place to travel to and from–anywhere, everywhere. People from Europe; people from the Middle East; Orthodox Jews dressed all in black; women in Amish attire–people, quite frankly, from everywhere.

One woman, dressed all in pink from her head to her shoes, clearly one of my Pink Sisters (fellow breast cancer survivor)–either still going through chemo or newly released to the world of treatment-free living as her head was covered in a very attractive bright pink turban–was rather slowly walking down the hall; a tired but satisfied smile on her face. Two elderly people, side by side, in old, worn clothes, carrying old, worn vintage suitcases–the kind from the early 50s–bent and slow and very care-worn, travelling from who knows where to who knows where. All types of people.

2013-09-27vintage-suitcaseAs I watched all these people converging in a tiny mass of humanity within the walls of the Newark Liberty International Airport, I thought about the group of women I would be spending the next two weeks with, while in Kenya–a world away from home. We were seven women, from all parts of the country, from various generations of life. Three in their 20s, three in their 40s, and one in her early 60s. Some married, some single. Some with children grown, one with a baby, some with no children at all. Career women, students, retired women and stay-at-home moms.

2013-09-27IMG_8495Seven different women with seven different lives coming together to spend time in a country not our own, to learn and grow and create relationship–with each other and with the people we would meet along the way. People who also were from all walks of life. Missionaries, ministers, businessmen. Widows, orphans, school children. Women, men and children. Talking, sharing, learning, growing. Beginning as strangers. Leaving as friends.

2013-09-27children2This was the journey I was on–the journey all seven of us were on. To find community half a world away from our own. To make strangers into friends. A messy and somewhat intimidating experience for a very introverted lifelong crowd watcher; but so much richer and rewarding, don’t you think?2013-09-27bombolulu1

The Great Adventure!

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Africa! Can’t wait! Check out Trading Hope‘s Facebook page and keep up with the happenings along the way! Should be a really great adventure!

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