Saturday, August 23, 2014

between two beauties

It's the weekend, folks. Even though I have not personally started school yet (please hold back your not-happy-about-it snarls), I already feel more excited when it's the weekend. It's the tiny hint of freedom in the air. The hint of freedom that increases in May & decreases in August when the beloved back-to-school shopping begins (new pens!). 

My weekend. 

This afternoon, I celebrated my zero motivation with a few chapters of my book before actually mustering some random motivation to go make homemade brownies. 

For some of you, that doesn't sound thrilling. Or worthy of mentioning. 

But trust me - if Emilee Clemons made something homemade and it came out the other end not only edible but delicious, it's worth mentioning. 

I swung around from cupboard to cupboard, measuring cup to measuring cup, until my nutella brownies were complete. I grabbed some coffee ice cream, some tea from London, and I was on my way to a friend's house for the evening! I would show you a picture of all that happiness, but I decided that at least at their house for a few hours I would not use any technology that I wouldn't have used before I was eight. It was a nice breath of fresh air. 

The evening was over all too quickly, but we got to sing Taylor Swift on the way home at the top of our lungs. Because that's how we roll. 

Summer is dwindling and I can feel it. 

The bittersweetness of friends already being swamped in homework, of friends going to college, of all the precious adventures of this summer being tucked away under the definition of Summer 2014. 

The bittersweetness of so many new beginnings that a new season, every season, brings. 

Tomorrow I'm going to my own church for the first time in months. In reality, it's been three weeks. But it feels like so much longer than that. Not only has so much abundant life passed in that frame of time, but because both times I've been at church recently, it's been a blur of loving being home & longing for the many different church atmospheres I've gotten to be a part of this summer. It's been up on stage sitting next to the people that I've been on so many adventures with wanting to both laugh & cry because it's over.

Tonight my heart is heavy for the many people I love that live so very far away. I love being home. I'm excited to be back, but my heart is so torn. Between loving discovering my new routine & wishing the routine of my summer - continent hopping - would never have ended. Of course, to an extent, my heart is always longing to be with so many of them, but tonight it hurts in a unique way. I can hear the distinctive laugh of my Ecuadorian friends & I can see the eyebrow raise that transcends any language barrier in Uganda. Written on my heart forever are the memories of driving through the cities of Guayaquil and Entebbe hours after the sun set, the scent of smoke in the air. 

I can never leave these memories at home. 

It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!” —Philippians 1:7+8, THE MSG 

From now on when I hear 'Open The Eyes Of My Heart', it won't just be a good worship song. It will rush me back to a bonfire in the middle of a humid week at the equator. It will rush me back to sitting in the middle of thirty plus African kiddos worshipping with no drum or guitar, just loud honest voices echoing off the side of the classroom walls. The next time I use a glue stick, I'll remember leading crafts in the chaos of a VBS led by 12-15 people with 110 village children. Every time I see a riding lawn mower, I'll think of that time I slashed grass with a machete in the Pearl of Africa. Next time I cut up vegetables, I'll remember doing it with all those little ones by my side, preparing their one o' clock meal, dropping scraps in the dust below. 

The bittersweet part is that I don't know the next time I will be among all the people I love all over the world. 

When we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Ecuador, a few of us were beginning to cry. The aged, godly woman looked at the closest translator & said, "We'll miss you, but," putting her hand over her heart, talking through her misty eyes, "we always have you in our hearts."

The best part is, if they are in our hearts, they never truly leave no matter how many miles away they live.

I'm not sure what's next - other than school and my schedule for the next four weekends. Life beyond that point is vague. Misty. 

There's a blank slate that comes with autumn approaching. 

A blank slate that I need, both physically, emotionally, & spiritually.

In honor of needing a blank slate, I took all the decorations on my wall down a few days ago. Both figuratively and theoretically, I'm waiting to see what God paints. There's beauty in not knowing exactly what's next. There's beauty in being scared & holding tighter to Him in confusion. There's beauty in interceding for the people you long to be with; a longing that cannot be explained. 

There's two things for sure that are already up on that wall, the rest still empty - Ecuador & Uganda reminders. 

Because no matter what happens during this next year, what happened in Ecuador & Uganda really did happen. What The Lord showed us there was something He showed us when He had our undivided attention. The stories He wrote will not be erased. We're not going to let the enemy kill, steal, or destroy those experiences or any of the vibrant shades of their beauty. 

Because no matter what happens, Summer 2014 will be marked by pulling out that Passport, late night Taylor Swift jam sessions on the way home from a friends, the books I've read, those healing two weeks of prescribed nothing, worshiping so close to the equator, facing my deadliest fear - flying - a total of twelve times, learning so many new skills, shopping for skirts, running through banana plantations, hiking through the Ugandan bush, reuniting with so many old friends, God blessing with so many new budding relationships. 

These stories? They're mine, given generously from the heart of God. 

It's my joy to share them, to relive them. 

I can't wait for Him to write the next chapter. 

Until next time... 

P.S. Along with a few blank slates, Autumn could come sweeping in with red leaves & pumpkin lattes & cardigan weather any time now. Just sayin'. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

a different kind of #wcw

I hate Woman Crush Wednesday (further known as #WCW). 

Probably always will (in other words, until I am somebody's). 

For those of you blessed enough to not know what #WCW means, it is a social media trend - girls and guys around the country on a weekly basis post a picture of a woman in their life & plug some endearing comment at the end. It's been abused into posting silly SnapChats of one another (which I see the humor in. Bahaha.). 

I'm not going to change the face of social media. Just like I can't help the fact that I'm miserable on Valentine's Day. Some things will just remain the same for many years. 😉 However, I can shed some light on the subject. It's okay to be your own 'Woman Crush Wednesday'... but remember. Whether you've been one (repeatedly) or are in the same boat with me, every title you have on earth is a mere nothing. 

More than what Taylor Swift is implying in her last music video, more than the pit Miley Cyrus is leading so many people into, more than the condescending words of a selfish boy. 

You are even more than all their compliments. You are more than the world's flattery. (Believe it or not, Emilee Clemons. #preachingtomyselfhere). 

You're a Peculiar Treasure. 
This is eternal stuff.

Remember this one I shared awhile ago? It's worth sharing again & again.

Thank-you, Ann Voskamp, for stepping on our toes once again. 

When you were seven & the world had not entirely crept into your whole outlook on yourself yet. You were a princess, an astronaut, a nurse, a mommy, a world changer. You were all of this because you had the freedom of using your imagination. You were all this because you didn't care what people thought of your crazy dreams. 

Speaking of which, just in case no one has told you lately... 


Last, but surely not least:

It's a daily struggle choosing truth over insecurity. Forget daily, it's a minute by minute struggle, because your outlook on yourself can change in one scroll of your finger these days. Jesus sees Instagram, but, beloved, that's not all He sees. 

I know that you know He sees your heart. 

Most of you have heard that you're beautiful. You just haven't believed it first. Or, you've believed it because you had time to swipe mascara on this morning, not because He told you so. 

...& I know that when you're lonely, you don't care what your heart looks like. Right now you may be wanting to yell this at me right through the screens that separate us:

Just plain & simple pretty. If I told you that you were, you wouldn't believe me. 

I know that because I can't handle those compliments either. I don't know what to say...because I don't understand how someone could think that I was pretty. Or, how they could have the courage to tell me so. (Please don't sympathize for me. I know what you want to say. I've been told. I'm not writing this post for a #wcw. I'm writing it for all the girls that feel the pressure of being someone's #wcw everyday.)

Just like the typical orphan's heart - we're inclined to choose other's words over our Father's as a temporary fill. Because listening to our Father would make us tear down our wall of comfort & hiding that we place in our relationships. We choose what seems easier at the time on our hearts over getting to know our Father in a vulnerable atmosphere. 

It's not that I haven't heard that I'm beautiful. It's not that I don't tell myself that I am on a rare occasion. It's that before I hear from any outside sources, I need to be secure in my Father before I seek temporary (even if often necessary) help. 

In some shape or form, you & I have orphan hearts. Orphan hearts that cringe at #wcw's & every other form of masked betrayal. Orphan hearts that fear two things most (1) being lonely (abandoned) & (2) being fully known. 

I'm right here with you. Searching for security & feeling an un-justified shame when I don't feel beautiful as His daughter. (There is NO condemnation for those who are in Jesus.) 

But let's face the ugly truth.

Most of the time, we feel ugly. Or undesirable. Or disrespected. Or unworthy. 

I don't know how to fix that (He does), but I can tell you that you are not ugly. 

You are beautiful. 

We are beautiful. 

...because through Jesus, God no longer sees our sin. He sees our redeemed beauty. The born again church being made new. 

Here's to figuring that all out - believing it - together. 

To top off our evening together, I'm going to do something else I'm not comfortable with (like this whole blog post). I'm going to post a few pictures that I feel beautiful in. If you are inspired, I dare you to do the same on your little corner of social media! 

Let's raise our girls up in a generation of women seeking the truth about themselves from Jesus & not from another single soul. 

(In case you hadn't noticed, I feel the most beautiful with my beloved friends in Africa.) 

 “So that's me. Now somebody else please go.” —Pitch Perfect

–Beloved Of Christ, Emilee 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

dirt floors for hardwood

Hello there, dear Peculiar Treasures! It's been awhile. My summer is coming to a quiet end. It's hard to put all of my experiences into words, but I'm beginning to! I may not have written so much about Ecuador online yet, but rest assured that it's been written about. I'm hoping that He stirs a blog up in me about our short, amazing time in South America soon. In the meantime, I'm writing over at our Uganda blog - & here's my first post upon returning to the States. May you be blessed. Thank-you for all your support! Let's talk soon.


I’m trading in a summer of cold showers for hot showers.

I’m trading in dirt floors for hardwood.

I’m trading in boarding passes for small town permits.

I’m trading in blessings for praise.

We’re so-called ‘home’. Our team of twelve exited the Kansas City airport on Friday night exhausted and ready for our own beds.

Two weeks flew by, just as I knew they would.

The questions (or the lack thereof) have started to pile in.

Have you recovered?

How was your trip?

Did you see ebola?

They are all valid questions. Even though I’m not ready for those questions, I appreciate them.

The answers?

As I shared with one of my Ecuador team members a week after we returned, I don’t want to recover. Sure, I want to readjust to my current timezone. Sure, I want to sleep. Sure, I need to get back into my routine. But I don’t want to come back and live exactly like I did before I left. The word life-changing in relation to mission trips is overused and abused. Mission trips aren’t life-changing because you visit villages, see poverty, and pray over the needy or discouraged. Mission trips are life-changing if you let Jesus mold your character through those experiences. For that matter, that’s what makes every day life-changing – becoming the one Jesus wants you to be step by step. A calloused heart cannot accept those truths. That’s why the ‘recovery’ of my mission trips this summer will be vulnerable, broken, and honest.

How was my trip? My trip was very messy, so joyful, and brimmed full with (new & old) companionship.

…& for those of you who don’t know, ebola is in western Africa. We saw sickness, but there wasn’t a touch of ebola where we specifically were in eastern Africa.

Almost all of our plans changed to a certain extent, but we’re trusting that it was better that way. I teasingly quoted almost everyday, “Life begins outside of your comfort zone.” It does… & I had the opportunity to be personally stretched more than I ever have before.

While in Uganda, I had the blessing of renewing old friendships and beginning many anew. It was so sweet to see how Jesus brings glory to His name in confusion and messiness. We found our joy in these truths.

So, would you pray that in our ‘trip recovery’ – similar to surgery recovery – we would be open to change and healing?

Pray that our hearts would be protected by the God that protected us in rough landings and slippery dirt roads.

Pray that we would humble ourselves. That we would continue to
listen to what He would have to say to us after all of the experiences we were blessed with.

Pray that as we miss the wonderful people we got to know that God would continue to comfort us with the fact that He loves them more than we ever will.

I look forward to sharing specific stories with you as time passes. So many of your prayers were answered! I rejoice in the wonderful support system of friends and family we all have around us.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

We’ll talk soon. :)

Until then, trade in fear for boldness, dry bones for His life, and worry for trust.

I got treasure up in heaven; I got dirt all over me,
Emilee C.