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'. 

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