**moving to Nashville** -and all the pain and all the God that comes with it

Something started in my heart in about October. This craving. An unsettling. A stirring. Not so much a discontentment as it was a curiosity and realization that there was something God wanted for me that I wasn’t doing yet. It was just a little flutter in my heart…and on some days it seemed a lot more like a tsunami than a flutter. I knew there was a change coming. I knew there was something more God had planned for me.

Nashville started coming up in conversations. Just here and there. And finally I started putting the two together. I realized that maybe the stirring and the Nashville were one in the same.

So I prayed….for it to not be Nashville. Because honestly Nashville would break my heart. I wanted God to let me go home to Andalusia. I knew my parents and grandparents could absolutely use the help. I thought it was the logical move, the move that showed the most love of God through me. I didn’t know why a loving God would not allow me to go home to help my parents who have given and done so much for me. Surely my sweet God would let me go help my precious and overwhelmed parents. Not to mention, my parents are my two best friends, and I don’t have a bit of shame in saying that! It was the move that would have honestly made my heart the most happy upfront…the most comforted…the most peaceful…the least anxiety filled. I knew I could find a job in Andalusia, and truthfully I probably would have been happy if I would have chosen to go there. I also threw in the move to Panama City. Because that’s where so much family lives. I would have LOVED to have lived close to my GanGan. She’s literally the most precious woman to ever walk the earth in my opinion. She loves so well and so big. She is a constant giver of herself. Always there for each one of us no matter what or no matter how many times we cry over the same things. She’s a rock. Plus she is HYSTERICAL so living close to her would have filled my belly with deep, deep laughter.

So I prayed….prayers that sounded like this “Dear Jesus, please let me go back home so I can help my sweet parents or let me go live by my GanGan. But I guess if Nashville is really what you want then I’ll go”…..Seriously didn’t even mean the last part honestly, but I knew it was the “Christian” thing to pray.

God started stirring me and reminding me of Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple”. So I didn’t even know what verse that was and honestly kinda resented whatever Pastor that preached a sermon on that and burned it into my brain (okay…only very slightly resented them). But there it was, etched into my brain and written on my heart for me to have to dreadfully hash over and over in my brain. I’ll tell you this….it wasn’t a fun, happy, encouraging scripture to meditate on. IT SUCKED. IT HURT. And it let me know exactly what I HAD to do. Except I wouldn’t listen. I swallowed the sermon and did my best to throw it in File 9 (in third grade at Pike Road Elementary File 9 is known as the TRASH).

I wrestled with God and begged him. Literally begged him not to make me go so far from my family. B E G G E D. P L E A D E D. I told him I would do anything, just don’t make me leave them.

I think I always knew it was Nashville. I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I kept praying for the others. Like really praying hard. HARD.

Then came January and February and the incredible pain….the overwhelming, drowning, miserable pain that it brought. The funerals and memorial services, the memories, and tears. I couldn’t even pray for a move because all I could muster up in my prayers was ‘help’. I hurt alongside some of the most precious teachers, friends, and humans a girl could ever know. I hurt with them, cried with them, tried to cope with them, and seriously leaned on them. There was no chance I could ever leave them now. I couldn’t leave this support system. I couldn’t leave them after the things we had faced together.

God was gentle to allow me to reach a point of stability before he pressed moving again on my very fragile heart. This time though, there were no other options. He fully pushed Nashville on me. And it broke me. All. Over. Again.

I remember verbally saying “why would you make me move all alone after I just went through so much hurt”…”why would you let my heart break again”…..”I can’t do this again”. The “whys” eventually turned back to “I’m not doing this” “I’m not moving away from my family and my friends”.

**And then it all happened. I had gone home to Andalusia one weekend. The whole weekend my heart was hurting because I kept saying “God, I can’t leave these people and not be able to come home all the time. It hurts.” I had cried myself to sleep the night before just from thinking of the sheer pain moving to Nashville would bring. And in my tears, I told God I needed him to give me a sign in a big way because a big sign would be the only way I could accept that it was really what he wanted.

I was standing on the edge of my parent’s back porch staring at the stars while I was waiting for Mac to do his business so we could go to bed. I’ve always loved the stars. They fascinate me. I have fallen more in love with them since traveling to other countries and finding wonder that I can be so far from home and yet be staring at the same stars. I find the most beautiful peace in knowing that my family from across the world see that same beautiful sight each night. It just gives my heart a little glimmer of warmth. So there I was admiring them. And I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off of this one little group of stars. Now let me back up and say that yes, I love the stars but I know NOTHING about constellations or their names. But there were these three stars that I could not get enough of. Mac finally finished his business and we went to bed. Nothing big right…..WRONG.

I drove back to Auburn the next day and I couldn’t shake those stars from my mind. I’ve looked at the stars a million times so I found this really, really odd. I try my hardest to look for God in the things that I can’t quite get over. So I tried to search for him in those. I became obsessed with trying to figure out which stars I had seen. I would go outside my trailer at night for a few nights and try to find them, but I couldn’t find them again for the clouds or the trees. I began googling the constellations, and I found Orion’s belt which looked the most similar to the stars I had seen.

At this point, I was pretty sure there was a reason that God had me stuck on this. So I really researched to try to find out why I couldn’t shake these. I found out that Orion’s Belt is one of the few stars named in the Bible. BUT GET THIS. In Job 38:31, God is answering Job in a way that shows that God knows infinitely more and purposes and plans all things. So it reads, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion”.

Okay, cool Ander, so what. YALL. GET READY. Orion’s belt is made up of three stars. These three stars are not on the same trajectory. They are constantly moving away from each other but since we are so far away we can’t see the change. But it’s been happening for years. God was saying that only he can cause them to separate just like only he can keep the stars of Pleiades gravitationally pulled together. So as I was reading and dissecting this, tears began to well up in my eyes.

Three stars. Me. My Family. My Work Family. Moving Apart. Me…I have to separate. Yall…..maybe it’s just me, but that blows my mind that God would take the time to use incredibly amazing things like this to direct a sinner girl that is doubting his goodness and running from his plans.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.

A week and a half ago, I was driving to Nashville to visit. I prayed the whole way there that God would continually give me a peace and an excitement for moving there because really all I felt was pain. I prayed, and I pretended to be Kari Jobe and have a full on worship concert in my little Toyota Corolla all the way from Birmingham to Nashville. I turned my radio down (because isn’t that what everyone does when they start getting into traffic so that it can help them drive???). And there is was……painted on the first overpass when you hit the Nashville city limits is the center of the Tennessee flag……three….stars…..together. And I knew. I know. That Nashville is where I belong. It’s where my stars align. It’s where my God has big plans.

(These three stars)

So here I am…..with honestly an incredibly broken and weak heart because even though I know it’s where I must go, it shatters my heart. It shatters my heart to know I’m breaking my parent’s hearts moving so far away. It shatters my heart to know that I have to start over. With making new friends. With a new job. With a new church. With new roads to navigate. Here I am with a month and a half until I move with a trailer in Auburn, Alabama that I HAVE to sell because I can’t afford to “live” in two places. Here I am with a month and a half until I move without a job in Nashville because God has told me no so far on all the doors I thought I was suppose to easily walk through….and without a Nashville place to live because who can find a home when they are a state away. Here I am….with hurt, with fear, with anxiety, but also with excitement and peace knowing my God would go to such extreme lengths to show his plan for me. It MUST be a stellar plan.

Here I am…even though things seem to be stacked against my odds…even though my heart is breaking…even though the details seem fuzzy…even though people are telling me I’m crazy…Here I am. Trusting you Lord. Leaning and Listening to Only You. Send Me. Use Me.

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Little less than happy on International Happiness Day

Today was International Happiness Day.

And I woke up NOT HAPPY. So not happy. Actually I went to bed not happy. My poor bff, Ellett, woke up to a lengthy paragraph of all the complaints I had before I went to bed last night. (Real healthy right…NOT). So I woke up AND WAS NOT HAPPY on this great international day of happiness.

Yesterday was a long day of parent conferences (WHICH GIVE ME THE MOST ANXIETY). And to be quite honest, my mind was still wishing it was Spring Break-in it.

I also have managed to pinch my left sciatic nerve, and OMG the pain. Yall. THE. PAIN. No, stinking, fun. It completely has robbed the last few nights of any sort of sleep. Ander + Sleep = down for any adventure. Ander – Sleep = STINKIN’ DOWN RIGHT HORRID

It also took about 7 outfit changes this morning for me to feel confident enough to walk out the door. And when I say “confident enough”, I mean “if I don’t leave on what I have on and get in my car and drive to school then I’m not making it to work” confident. I kept looking at my body and thinking BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. It really comes down to the fact that I have tried to start a diet for like three weeks now and well….. I STINK AT THAT (Jesus, take the wheel LOL…but really). So it’s been on my mind a lot, and honestly I have just done some real ugly talking to myself about it all. Seriously. Real ugly self talk. (Yall pray)

So yeah…woowhoo for happiness today.

I knew it was International Happiness Day because my school was celebrating it in a few fun and honestly super inspirational ways. So in my mind I really kept stacking up all the ways in which I was in fact NOT happy on this “happy holiday”.


I got THE cutest little ring from Altar’d State on my little vacay to Nashville over Spring Break.

{Check it out here: http://www.altardstate.com/shop/jewelry/rings/altar-d-state-sentiment-ring-be-still.html }

It simply says “ Be Still”. Those two words became some pretty special words during my summer in Africa. Some of the incredible women I got to learn and grow from kept bringing it to my attention as it was laid on their heart. The words “Be Still” became not a meaning of stopping movement. But to stop whatever rabbit hole my mind was going down and to remember Who I Belong to and all the incredible things My “Holder” has done for me.

I wore the ring because DUH that’s what you do when you get new, fun, and stylish things. You wear them in hopes that someone will ask you about them. (Girls, yall know it’s so stinkin’ true). But after my less then “happy filled” morning, my stylish ring became seven letters that turned my day around.

At 9:45ish every day, my kids go to specials and I get a few minutes of planning (okay, more like running here and there and everywhere). I can’t remember what I was getting, but I reached to open my cabinet and the “Be Still” jumped off that silly ring.

& God whispered….”Baby girl, be still. Stop those rambling thoughts. Stop those “less than” thoughts you have of yourself. Stop those unhappy, negative thoughts. Stop. BE STILL. Calm that rushing mind of yours. YOU ARE MINE. AND I HAVE GOT YOU.”

heart exhaled

Literally, my heart took a breath.

I remembered who I was, who I became because of the cross. And I started “counting my blessings one by one” throughout the day. Today, it came in the form of acknowledging all the things that happened that made my heart SO. STINKING. HAPPY. The things that made my heart skip little undetectable beats.

So here’s a list of them…..because for some reason it seems that I “boast” about all the negatives instead of all the incredible things around me….

*My Ava gave me the most precious handwritten card/letter about how she loved me

*I got the most precious and genuine hugs from a pile of goofy 8 & 9 year olds

*I sat around and we shared all the fun things that we did over spring break (yes, I put down the lesson plans and just talked and laughed with some stellar tiny humans…judge me)

*One of my students from last year brought me a sweet little note that she wrote over spring break because she was thinking about me

*I got to do the alphabet in sign language with one of my kids who set out to learn over her break

*I twisted the top off of a ice cold Dr Pepper bottle and enjoy all 23 flavors J (See…what diet?? Lol)

*I got to BELLY laugh with some of the greatest educators and friends at work today.

*I got attacked with love by a puppy and two kittens when I walk in the door after work

*I found a stellar new playlist on Spotify to listen to before my Quiet Time

*I made some new connections to the Old Testament that super excited me (I really struggle with reading the Old Testament because I get overwhelmed in not understanding…So seriously this pumped me up)

*I earned 50,000 SkyMiles (MY TRAVEL HEART IS PUMPED)

*I enjoyed a bangin’ frozen coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (AGAIN…WHAT DIET???)

*Mac cuddled with me on the couch before he got wild and pulled out EVERY toy he has (He may be a little spoiled and own A TON)

{PS. I may be a little obsessed….#NOSHAME

*I GOT THE BEST LETTER IN THE MAIL FROM MY RUBANGAKENE JUSTINE. Justine STOLE my heart while in Uganda. He is a precious nine year old boy that is FOREVER SMILING that I have the privilege of sponsoring. I don’t even know how it happened, but very early on, we latched onto each other. Every Sunday morning, we would seek each other out and worship beside each other. There were few words but SO MUCH LOVE. I cannot tell you how many times he crosses my mind DAILY. Where I wish I could grab his little hand and squeeze it. Where I wish I could hear him run from the Woman’s Refuge Center screaming my name with a little  smirk on his face. Last night, my heart was extra heavy missing him and my friends across the sea. AND TODAY I RECEIVED A NEW PICTURE AND LETTER FROM HIM. My.heart.almost.exploded. (As tears were obviously rolling down my face)

So many incredible things to celebrate and choose happiness over. Geez Louise. What a blessed child of an indescribable God I am.

Be still. That’s all it is. Be still. Calm the world and cherish the world saver.

 

 

So cheers to “being still” & cheers to INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY!

*May I always choose to find the happy.

“Be still & know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

hands

….I give you these hands….

Today, I sat at a table with one of the most precious people God has ever allowed me to meet. It was after school and of course I had a million things to do since grades are due and spring break is coming. SO NATURALLY…..I sat doing none of it and instead googled “Best Planners”. Because having something to write down all the things I need to do would help me get them done right?? LOL. I ended up on Erin Condren’s Life Planner website….designing my own planner. There are A TON of totally cute and precious covers for the planners, but being the picture obsessed human that I am, I choose one that allowed me to put like 24 pictures on the front and back. (Again……I chose the planner that would take the longest time to order….instead of doing all the things I needed to be doing….pray for me yall). Anyways, I started trying to think of the pictures I would want on the front. I knew without a doubt that I wanted some pictures from Africa. I opened the folder that contains THOUSANDS (literally) of pictures from Africa. I clicked on a random one. It was a picture of me and Isaac.

Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I had to put my hands up to my face to stop them from beginning to race down my face like they were competing in the Indy 500. I looked at a few more and then I had to stop because I knew it would lead to just a total meltdown. But my mind was already gone. It was already there. Missing and thinking of my family and home on the other side of this big sphere we call Earth.

My whole drive home, Africa kept popping back up to the forefront of my thoughts. So once I got home to the safety of my little trailer and more specifically the confines of a warm bath, I scrolled through the beautiful pictures from Africa. And it hurts. Hurts bad. But that’s just because I have been incredibly blessed to meet brothers and sisters so far away.

I kept looking through pictures and noticed there was something that kept standing out to me for some reason. My hands. Pictures of my hands on babies bellies. Pictures of my hands locked in other hands. Pictures of my hands tickling children. Pictures of my hands washing dishes. Pictures of my hands sorting beans. Pictures of my hands making porridge and posho. Pictures of my hands in the air from celebrating gaining a new sister in Christ. Pictures of my hands washing feet. Pictures of my hands doing peace signs for goofy pictures. And pictures of my hands holding the Bible.

Hands. Ten fingers and a palm. Simple…yet powerful. The very thing that we use to get things DONE. The very thing I’m using to type this silly post.

I hear sermons and messages about our feet, our minds, and our hearts all the time.

But Lord…..let my hands forever be for you.

I began praying that my hands would never stop reaching to hug the necks of the “nobodys”. They would never stop interlocking with the “forgottens”. That they would always clap with, celebrate with, and be used to create silly pictures with the “less thans”. That I would never keep them for my own good, but that they would grow callused and worn from being used to meet new people, greet people, and love the heck out of people. 

That whatever I do….whether in the nicest neighborhood in the States, the slums of Africa, the dirt roads of Central America, the classroom, the grocery store, the church pew.  That wherever I am….whether typing a blogpost, teaching a child how to multiply, cooking food, giving a hug, hopefully one day writing a full book (just a girl dreamin’ okay), sorting beans, washing feet, holding a Bible and teaching from it, holding Mac’s leash, driving down the road, putting a Band-aid on a booboo, or typing a text. That whoever I’m around….whether around my Acholi brothers and sisters, my American friends, my precious class, my coworkers, the lady at McDonalds who takes my money (and literally probably knows my order because….ya know your girl loves her some McDonalds.NO SHAME)….wherever I am…whatever I’m doing…no matter who I am around…That my hands would always keep reaching…they would always keep holding….they would always keep working….they would always keep touching…they would always radiate love until my Jesus calls me home.

Lord, 

My hands. They are yours. Would you never let them close. Would you always keep them reaching for the hurt, the lost, the broken, the forgotten, the famous, the rich, the poor, the excited, the sad, the black, the white, the happy, the angry, the old, and the young. Would they hold tighter than they think they can hold, longer than they think they can hold, and more than they think they can hold. Would they always and forever cherish the people they get to cling to. My Baba, they are yours. I give you these hands.

shattered

This post. This post is not nice and tidy. It’s not going to be wrapped up into something beautiful. In fact, I don’t even know where God wants this to go.

This post. It’s going to be real. It’s going to be raw. And it’s going to be all the cries from the depths of my shattered heart.

So here is my heart….unfiltered and broken…..

Teachers are suppose to give out hugs and high fives. They are suppose to give grades and homework. They are suppose to watch a child grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are suppose to get exciting stories of their student’s weekend trips. They are suppose to get invitations to ball games and dance recitals. They are even suppose (or expectant rather ha) of emails from parents that aren’t too happy with us. What we aren’t suppose to get….what we aren’t expectant of…is a final goodbye, a journal left not complete, a name in a gradebook that won’t receive another grade by it, an empty seat, a child left without a reading partner, friends left without their recess buddy, a name that can no longer be called while taking roll, and a call that one of their students..no, one of their babies…has left this earth.

But here I am, here my co workers are, facing just that. Not once, but twice for me. In a matter of weeks.

It’s not okay. It’s not okay that a baby was taken. So I’m not okay. And I’m not afraid to say that. In moments I have told myself that I “have to be” because I am a “Christian”. But no, being Christian just means that in the pain there is still hope. It doesn’t mean I have to be okay. It doesn’t make me a robot. And so…

I’m not okay. My heart can’t even feel anymore. There is nothing left. It’s just like surgery. The pain is inflicted and there is a scar that is numb. That’s my whole heart. One big numb scar right now. My mind can’t stop. It won’t stop. I replay over and over the horrid stories of my two sweet girl’s last moments, and it makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me cringe. It makes me nauseous. I can’t sleep. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and when I do, I’m awaken to what feels like an elephant standing on my chest and fear and panic ripping through my veins like lightening on a hot summer night. I’m so panicked that something in general is just wrong that I feel each one of my furbabies bodies to feel the up and down of their lungs to make sure they are breathing. And then I lose it….I fall apart because the panic stops and the reality of the realness of what is really going on in my life sets in. And it hurts. Over and over and over. And I cry. Hard. And I just sit up or crumble to a ball because I know that going back to sleep won’t happen. I fall apart and say Jesus because that’s all I even know to say.

Which is another part of my pain. I love words. Words can be chosen and strung together so beautifully and precisely. And usually that is how I function. It’s how I vent and outlet myself. But I haven’t written hardly any words about anything in three weeks. Because there are no words. There is no amount of thought and effort put into words that can string together and explain the pain and feelings. There are no words I can write, say, or type that make things better…that make things okay. So I have been so frustrated within myself.

I’m also not okay because my kids, my babies, are hurting. I’m not okay because my best friends, the people I get to go to work with everyday, my coworkers, aren’t okay. I’m not okay because when I close my eyes I see mother’s, father’s, sibling’s, and other family member’s faces drenched in tears and filled with such great sorrow. Nothing in me is okay. My heart is not only torn, but shattered.

I have found that so many painful memories of losing Megan and TJ have flooded back into my mind and heart. So many “scars” have been ripped open again. So many feelings that I suppress without realizing it have surfaced in an overwhelming way. With Tj’s birthday and the anniversary of Megan’s death approaching in the next week, my heart is drowning. And I don’t say that to get sympathy, or “Poor Ander”. I say it so that you can see that my heart, my mind, my everything is beaten to a pulp. So that you can see that there is nothing left of me. That I am on empty….That I get through the day with my babies, but then I get home and I fall apart. I call my mom, or dad, or GanGan and I fall apart. The pain engulfs me and that wave of fear, tears, and panic crashes down on top of me…slinging my tired and weary heart every which way it wants.

I’m not okay.

So there is where I am today. And where I will most likely be for the next days. Because it hurts. But today, I have been reminded of a story in the Bible. A pretty common story.

Daniel 3. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (paraphrased)

They were three guys who loved the Lord. Who served him and only him. But there was another ruler…King Nebuchadnezzar. The one who required his subjects to bow down to his image. This was a problem for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused. Because they would not bow down to anyone other than the one true God, our God. And so King Nebuchadnezzar told them he was going to throw them into the fiery furnace if they refused. And their response was “throw us in if you must, but we won’t bow down to you. Our God can save us from the flames, but if he doesn’t, HE IS STILL THE ONLY GOD WE WILL SERVE. HE IS STILL GOOD”. (whoa). But in they went. And when the king and his soldiers looked in, they saw four men…not three.

There are three reasons why I think God has continually brought this Bible story to my mind today. 1. God is good. Even when the flames are hot and the fire is overwhelming. 2. Yes, God could have prevented all of this pain from happening just like he could have prevented the three boys from ever having to go into the fire. Which is sometimes hard to even say. We don’t like to think of God like that. But he isn’t caught off guard. 3. Sometimes the fires will come. Sometimes we will be thrown into the fiery furnace. Sometimes we will go into the fire. But we aren’t going in alone. In the fire, God is right there. Through the tears…through the pain…through the cuss words we scream at him..He is there…collecting our tears in bottles because he cares for us.

Today I sat with my head bowed and my eyes closed beside the faculty and staff of PRS as we start our 21 days of prayer for Pike Road School. We are in the fire. Thrown right into the furnace. With pain and flames around us. But not alone. We have the fourth man with us. The fourth man walking through the flames with us.

It would be an honor to have you join us in praying for our students, our school, the community, and the families of the three sweet students who are sitting at the feet of Jesus right now. Satan WILL NOT have foot in our pain. We will hurt, but we will hurt and seek the help of our Jesus. Satan does not win. He will not win.

If you want to join us, please search 21 Days of Prayer for Pike Road Schools on Facebook and ask to be a member. It would mean the world to us. Every day you will receive a prayer and verse to pray over our school and community.

No, I am not okay…my heart is overwhelmed…..but I will shout my ‘why’s’, I will cry my tears, I will crumble inside, but I will keep my eyes on my Jesus.

**Praying for PRS** ALL IN

hamster wheel

Have you ever felt like you were on a hamster wheel, running and running and running, and feeling like you are doing so much only to get off the wheel for a second and realize you haven’t moved at all…..

“Hamster wheel-ing it” has become my new saying.

I’m swamped right now. I love my job, but it’s never ending. Working at a PBL school that is creating change in education isn’t a simple 8-5 job. In fact, if I didn’t totally believe in everything it stands for and work with the greatest people in the country who support and love me, there’s no way I could do it. I’m also going to grad school online to get my masters. Which pretty much equates to two papers and a discussion board a week plus reading two chapters of a textbook that I need an open dictionary beside me to comprehend. All of that is hard. I know I sound like a brat. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I have to do both of these, but it’s hard.

Most days I get home and I finish plans for the next day and do grad school only to fall into bed because I’ll wake up at 4:30 the next morning to go run and get to work. It’s a constant. And sometimes it can feel incredibly lonely. Even being surrounded by people.

I feel like the hamster on the wheel running and running as fast as my legs can possibly go….working and doing things yet all the while more things are piling up infront of me to do. Never feeling like I can “catch up”. Because I just feel like I’m spinning my wheels.

I feel like I’m running and doing so much each day and yet at the end of the day when I fall into bed, I feel like I’ve done nothing to advance his kingdom because I was so busy trying to just keep my legs going.

I’m thankful for these blessings….but it’s also hard.

Today, as I was crying my eyes out because test scores aren’t what I wanted, because friendships aren’t working how I wanted, because I’m exhausted from writing two papers from grad school today, and because I’m sick and trying to push through, I told a friend I was tired of being the hamster. Tired of going nowhere fast.

And as I tapped the send button, Jesus whispered to my soul….”but you’re training for something. That’s why you have to stay on the wheel right now.” “you’re going no where fast because you aren’t ready to run until I say run.”

**soul exhales**

As hard as it is, as impatient as I am, Jesus has me on this wheel for a reason. He has me in this season for a reason. And I can breath in knowing there’s a reason for it all. I can breath knowing “he uses all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose”

If you feel like you’re “hamster wheel-ing it”, breath and know that you’re training for a reason. If you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off and you can’t even catch your breath…that everything around you is hustle and bustle and do this and do that while feeling like you are lacking any true work for the kingdom, keep pushing….keep training…and keep your eyes on him….He’s training you for something HUGE.

heart hurt

I’m about to be really honest…totally transparent. So I hope you’re ready.

I’m not okay. And my mouth can’t find the words that my heart feels.

 

I’ve been back in the States for a little less than two weeks. And while I’m so happy to have run into the arms of my sweet family and laugh with my precious friends on this side, I’m not okay. My heart is not okay. It hurts in ways that I can’t explain and that might make me seem crazy if I could.

I currently feel like my Iphone charger that wanted so badly to fit into the African outlets but couldn’t without an adapter. I’m trying to force myself right back into the life I lived for so long before this summer, and I can’t. I can’t because I have just lived two totally different lives. Two lives that both became normal…two places that both have become home. It’s as if someone I loved greatly has died and I’m trying to figure out how to move forward without them while still carrying everything they taught me and I loved about them with me.

Most people spend their college years going through the “figuring out who I am” stage of life. Well I’m at mine now. Not in the “I’m going crazy to push the limits” kinda way. But in the way of living two different ways and trying to figure out what that leaves me with in the middle. How to mesh the two together. How to be “me”, how to be “God’s Ander” in both places. And so I’m trying to find me again.

I’ve struggled and felt so awkward in conversations. I have embraced friends that know everything about me and yet not been able to find any words to say. I missed their lives for a summer and they missed mine and the two lives we were living were vastly different and I don’t know what to say to fill the gap. There are movies and songs that I missed. There are mountains and valleys in their lives that I was away from and so I’m behind on the now. I feel as though there is no common ground. And all the same goes with them, they don’t know that side of life that I just lived either. And it’s nobodies fault….it’s just a cost (a cost I’ll always pay) of missions.

There’s the frustrations of coming from a place of porridge and now having a million and one choices of cereal to eat every day. The frustrations of having so much and knowing I would be perfectly find without much of it. There’s the frustration of living on “Acholi time” where “you get there when you get there” because you’ve stopped to have conversations with everyone on the way and now going and going and going and at the end of the day not feeling like you had one meaningful conversation.

I want so badly to share my life this summer so that everyone around me knows the people I now call family, and yet I can’t. I haven’t even wrapped my head around the stories and culture I just experienced. I haven’t fully cried my eyes out over the things I know both in the pain and the thankfulness. The pain that my family has experienced through the war in Uganda and in the complete gratitude and thankfulness I have that my Jesus has restored so many of their broken stories all because he is so merciful and kind. I haven’t even figured it out. I haven’t been able to even let myself think or hurt over it…I haven’t been able to even let myself try. But thank you, thank you so much to the ones who have asked me about my people and my home in Africa…thank you because it helps. Even if I can’t get it out. Thank you for asking…it means the world to me.

I told you I would be totally transparent and so I am. I have sat down and spent maybe two quiet times with my Baba since I have been back. I know….crazy right. I just went from being fully immersed in sharing his love and Gospel to hardly spending time with him. But that’s it. This is me being honest. My prayers have been simple…because I don’t have words…because my heart hurts. I just say help me. I just say show me. I just say I need you because I can’t. As strange as it sounds, when I pull my Bible out, my heart breaks. My heart shatters. Because my Bible was just held by dark brown hands, it has pages stained with red dirt fingerprints. It has notes and writings and dates of when scripture was shared. It’s hard. So I’m begging for your prayers for me. I know he is the only one that gets it. I need him.

It is all hard. It all hurts. Pictures of the sweet faces of my precious family across the ocean are constantly running through my head no matter what I’m doing like a slideshow that has no end.  Wondering what they are doing, wondering how they are, wondering if they are okay. And I know they are because I know that it was nothing of me that created those special bonds…it was all my Baba and my Baba still holds them. But it’s hard. It’s hard not to greet them, hold their strong hands, and hug their necks. It’s hard not to ask them “how is home” and not to have them laugh at my attempt to speak their language. It’s hard not to spend the early morning singing in the kitchen with Rose and the afternoons watching my guys kick butt at football. It’s hard.

I’ve decided one thing….If you want your heart to be completely whole inside of you, if you want to avoid hurt….don’t do missions. Don’t go meet people who might look, live, and sound different from you. If you want your heart to never break, don’t do it.

But….if you want your heart to be filled so much that it breaks because it explodes with love…go. If you want to fall on your knees in awe at the vastness of our Father in heaven and his amazing creating skills…go.

If you don’t want to pass a football (soccer) field filled with children trying to score and defend goals only to burst into tears because watching football was a daily activity…don’t go. If you don’t want to lose it because a lizard is on your door when you get home and it reminds you of the many small friends that you shared a house with on the other side of the world…don’t go.

But if you want to live knowing you are loved deeply by people who speak a different language and live a different culture…go. If you want to realize the only thing in this world that matters at all is finding a way to love people even when the odds are stacked against you…go.

If you want to see just how amazing our Father in heaven is…..go….