Tag Archives: London

The reason.

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As I sit in my office with the door shut, shaking (probably from the 36 oz of iced latte, but possibly from the fear of life moving forward) I did what I do every morning when I get to work. I go through my news feed. I check through emails, I read about the happenings from the day before, I search for news worthy of posting to social media, because that’s my job. Not so frequently, I will also read a few blogs. I did so this morning.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Hannah Brencher. She’s the creator of moreloveletters.com and if you’re not familiar with her or her writing or her TED talk, you should be. She is my soul. Recently, Hannah moved to Atlanta. I can’t help but think this makes her even more part my friend- even though we’ve had one correspondence in our lives, because ATL was for a short time, my own home. It was my place. Where Souper Jenny’s fed me and CASIE educated me and 12 Stone Church poured into my heart. Atlanta is special and I hope it becomes a safe place for love and growth for Hannah too.

So, this morning, I opened up my WordPress, and I read her recent blogpost, this was never a hopeless place. She spoke about her time leaving, saying goodbye to her friends before her move to Hotlanta. This, of course, made me cry. After all, I’m preparing for a journey over 4,000 miles away from where I sit right now in just a few short weeks. I look back at the last two years of my life pondering what would have happened had I gone to Rennes, had I gone to Bath instead, who I wouldn’t know today, who I wouldn’t love today- where my life and where my heart would be.

This was a preparation by God.

I sit in Cedar Falls humbled, knowing I am being prepared for 4,000 miles. I’m being prepared for the goodbye. I’m being prepared for the hardest year of my life.

Last weekend I had my goodbye party. Like Hannah, I don’t like goodbyes. That’s why I had the party a month before I actually leave. So I can make excuses and blame lack of timing for not saying real goodbyes. Not to mention I fear others not making the time to say farewell either. It happens too often. I love people more than they love me. Don’t pity me for that last sentence, it’s just true. I love people so much. I have like 100 best friends. My real best friend, of course, but then my best friend from growing up, my best friend from the west coast, my best friend from Greece, etc. etc. I get made fun of for it. All. The. Time. But to be honest, I’m scared, because never have I been filled with so much love and hope for myself and the world around me.

In the last two years I met my CASIE family in Atlanta, I met my Central family in Pella, I met my new PLC family in Cedar Falls and I will continue to take them with me where I go. I have the unique capability to love people from a great distance. I’m a freak of nature when it comes to this- perhaps it’s because I love travel too much and feel that long-distance is necessary, but I truly believe that closeness has nothing to do with distance. If you’re part of my life and you value my friendship, I will carry you with me. I will carry you through my life. I will love you through life. I may not verbalize it, I may not show it often- but my words to you will be there. My heart for you will not waiver. Show up for me and I’ll show up for you. The people I surround myself with are my heart. They are the glue, the sanity, the rib cage protecting me.

Last weekend I got two extremely special cards, from two friends I love dearly. Both praised me for conquering my dreams and chasing what I love in life. I have to say to the two of you- and to the rest of my friends and family, any of you I’ve ever had a long conversation with, a coffee or a beer with, any of you who I’ve shared a cab with home or lived with…you are the reason I can go after what I want. You are the reason I’m moving to London. Every day you inspire me. I sit and listen to you speak, I hear about your hopes and dreams and you give me courage and motivation to never settle. I read your blogs, I listen to your voice mails, I watch your videos, I laugh at your silly posts, I cheer you on because you’ve shown up in big and little ways that will make all the difference.

I am terrified. I’ve never wanted to flee from something so badly in my life. But you, you my special friend, are my reason. The reason I press on. You look at me with hope-filled eyes, proud. You hug me tight and say, “watch me do it too.” You are the reason I don’t run the other way.

Thank you, for showing up. It’s all I ask in the continuity of life. That when I show you love, you hold it and protect it, and give it back to the world. Nothing could make me more proud. You are my reason.

“I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart. I am never without it anywhere I go, you go my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling. I fear no fate, for you are my fate, my sweet. I want no world, for beautiful, you are my world, my true and it’s you whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you. Here is the deepest secret nobody knows, here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or the mind can hide and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.”  -EE Cummings

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running the race

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I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’m going to do it again. I’m going to preach. I went to church today at 12 Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA. I love this church. Today began with worship and two baptisms of men in their 40-50’s. My heart swelled for them.

As some of you may know, and others no clue, I have several friends in the Olympic Trials this week. One of my best friends, Norris Frederick, is one of those people. In the past he’s been a high jumper, but now he focuses on long jump. Tonight he jumps in the finals to make the Olympic team.

Okay, you’re probably wondering where this is all going. I went to church this morning and my friend is jumping for London. Is there a disconnect?? No. I was in church this morning, where they’re in a series called- It’s a Guy Thing. Lord have mercy on my soul already. What does preaching about men have anything to do with little old me? Well actually, a lot. Last week the message was about father’s and how important a role they play, and God as our one true father play in our lives. Today we talked about going one more round.

Specifically, we spoke on Samson and David. For those of you less entertained by the bible, Samson’s the dude who fell in love with Delihla, who then betrayed him and cut off all his hair. The same Samson that Regina Spektor’s song is about. Well Samson gave up. David, as in David and Goliath- who’s also King David- did not. David faced some crap back in the day. Instead of throwing in the towel though, David got up and went one more round.

There’s this quote by James Corbett- a famous boxer, who at one point in his life fought in one of the longest boxing matches of all time. 61 rounds. about 4 and a half hours long. And he, the champion, said this, “You become a champion by fighting one more round. When things get toughest, you fight one more round.” Cool, huh?

So here’s the difference. Samson fought alone, while David had people in his corner. Samson lives by reflex, while David lived by reflection. Samson was a roamer, while David put down roots.

Kay, that’s all peachy and wonderful but what does that have to do with Norris and the Olympics. Ooooh, everything my friends. You see, in the past few weeks Norris and I have been discussing his faith and his journey with God to carry him in this time of his life. Norris has been challenged with adversity throughout his life and still overcome it all. In large wonderful part, thanks to God.

Here’s the cool thing that came to me this morning. Norris is like David. Norris has people in his corner. A LOT of people. In a little bit, I’ll talk about these people as witnesses. Norris has taken the time in the corner- matter of speaking- to reflect on his journey, on his path with God and where he wants him to go in the future. Finally Norris has put down solid solid roots. Seattle is so much of Norris and his roots, family and friends are all there.

You see, going again with the boxing metaphor, when you go back to your corner after every round; after facing sin, defeat, your burdens and fears; you go back to your corner and reflect. Prayer is that same time. Prayer is when you sit in your corner and analyze. When you give to God and let him fight for you. When ding ding! The bell starts all over again and God covers you.

For Norris, this is the greatest part. In the days leading up to him going to Trials we’ve been discussing giving everything to God. We’ve been talking about giving God the glory of every aspect of his life, his jumps, his training and all. And this was the scripture today…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (your friends, family and supporters), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” -Hebrews 12:1-3

Pretty much quintescential to Norris and what he faces today. But here’s the cool thing. This doesn’t just apply to Norris and his cool life of potentially jumping as an Olympic athlete in London. It applies to you and me too. If you’re questioning if you should throw in the towel, whether it’s to give up on God, work, family, relationships, even on your life- this lesson- this passage- asks you to go one more round. Jesus Christ endured the cross for you and for me so that we may endure the joys and pains of life here on earth before eternity in heaven. Kind of a great burden to bear, if you ask me. God has trusted you with the life you lead. He has given you the opportunity to do with your life great and powerful things. Take them, don’t run scared, don’t fear the challenges God has given you. Face them. Give God the glory of carrying you through them, above them, and past them.

Don’t throw in the towel when the worst is at your feet. Give the worst to God and he’ll take it from there. Trust that he can carry your baggage, cause he knows you sure can’t. Give it to God.

counting the days

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1,084. 

Days it’s been since my life changed forever.

942.

Days it’s been since I first returned.

152.

Days it’s been since I last set foot in my favorite place on Earth.

0.

Days it’s been since I’ve thought about Thessaloniki.

In eleven days, it will be the three-year anniversary of my landing in Thessaloniki for the first time. That day marks such an important part of my life and I commemorate it every year. It doesn’t get easier with the time, as some may  think, but harder. I arrived in Thessaloniki on January 27, 2009, just two days before my 20th birthday. I spent my 20th with one other girl, Megan, a student from Iowa State. She and I were the first to arrive in Thessaloniki for school and had the longest time to adjust to being there…or rather to cry.

At least that’s what I did with my time there. I don’t do well alone. I never have. I thrive in a group. Throw me in a room with 100 people, and I’m bound to become friends with at least 40-50% of them. With Megan it was she and I alone to fend for ourselves. There was no one to lean on but each other. She and I had just met, so we weren’t exactly best friends. The nights I spent awake from jet-lag I sobbed calling my best friend Ashley from Skype asking myself what I was doing. I would weap over my bible crying to God about why I chose to do this. Ha, joke was totally on me though… good one, God.

I hated my first two weeks in Greece. I was miserable. To make matters worse, my roommate was the last to arrive, as the freak snow storm in London held her there while everyone else was bonding, I was still alone. Poor me, right? Well, yes… at the time, that’s exactly what I was thinking. My mind was quickly changed. The second my roommate with the same name, Jacqueline, came, I was ready for my adventure. Orientation began and I made friends very quickly. From that point on, I had my παρεα. My friends I’m still close with today. Jacqueline, Lauren, Vana, Chrysanthi, Simone, Sarah, Alyssa, Jill, Allison and Olga.

I still count the days when I get to return. Being in Thessaloniki is the hardest thing to explain. It’s this gorgeous combination of old meets new. The taste of the air is a mix of sea breeze and sweat, the scent of cigarette smoke and frappes. The people are beautiful, bronzed from the sun and marked by their thick and delicious accents. How I could go on. Salonika always will have my heart. A love affair will always go on each time I step into its graces off a plane, train or boat. Sweet Salonika, three years could never be just a memory. How many more days must I count before we’re reunited once more?

travel vs. travail

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I have been a terrible blogger as of late. Ever since booking my trip back home, I’ve been so consumed with working and getting extra cash in my pocket, by the time I get home at night, I just want to pop in a movie and pass out, and nine times out of ten, that’s what I do. However tonight, you’re lucky.

Since I’m now getting down to the wire, I only have 5 days left until my flight and I could not be more thrilled. So of course I need to start my packing process, which believe me, is a very long and tedious project. So instead of trying to go to bed, which I would normally be doing right now, I’m up waiting for my laundry to dry. Tomorrow, if I have the energy, I will begin the packing process that I so dread.

Here’s my weird thing about traveling. I love to travel. But I HATE to travail. Which ironically is where the world travel roots from. The “act” of traveling is awful. I hate going to the airport, waiting in the lines behind clueless people who can’t get their strollers to collapse, the people who wear shoes that are impossible to take off, getting on the plane to be seated behind the person that puts their seat down the second they get in their seat, recycled air, being freezing cold on a 14 hour flight, never finding a comfortable position. I hate it. I hate to travel. I absolutely love when I get to my destinations. I love down time in airports when I get to people watch, but anything else having to do with the act of transit between one place and another I really do not enjoy. Yuck.

So here’s a tally of the longest flights I’ve suffered in my lifetime:

1- Los Angeles to Sydney, 18 hours, twice

2- Chicago to Frankfurt, 15 hours, 4 times

3- Chicago to Paris, between 11 and 14 hours, more times than I can remember

4- Chicago to London, between 9 and 12 hours, more times than I can remember

5- Minneapolis to Hawaii, 10 hours, twice