washington whimsy

To those I love in Bellingham: a letter


Today, for the first time in I couldn’t tell you how long, I left my house on a Saturday. Not to go somewhere or do errands or meet someone, I left my house with my ipad and journal to go sit at a coffee shop.And I was walking in the crisp, bright, winter air I looked at the downtown skyline which has become one of my favorite views- the mountains created a back drop to the herald sign, the red museum creating a stark contrast to the blue skies. Beauty in unexpected things. It reminds me of the beauty I found in Beira, Mozambique when we had to live in the city, or the beauty of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Finding beauty where your feet are.

But, as I was contemplating that I was hit with a thought that welled up some tears in my eyes and caused my heart to race. So here it is:

To my people in Bellingham:

Growing up,my mother’s kitchen table always had Diet Coke, at least two remotes, some form of baked good and a hodgepodge of people. The doorway of our house was crossed by humans from lots of different walks of life, ages, journeys, people in the highs and lows.

It’s part of the reason why I love inviting people over and meeting people where they are at. And I think it’s why I’ve always had and been comfortable in so many different groups of people. And why I am friends with a handful of people I’ve never actual met or have only known in person one or two weeks of my life.

But I believe I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you people, those I interact with on AT LEAST a weekly basis (if not daily) here in Bellingham are the most eclectic group of humans I’ve ever encountered.

And man do I love you guys.

And what’s funny is that I only interact with people here that are somehow connected to one of two places: The Y or A Life. My job and my church.

But what a difference it’s made.

The realization I had, the thing that finally hit my heart even though the knowledge has always been there, even though it’s a truth I love to remind people of, is that knowing all of you guys, specifically in this time in my life has caused me to know more of who I am then I ever thought possible.

As I said, that tidbit was in my brain, the knowledge was there. Every conversation, interactions, the laughter, the tears, all those things stored together from people have been building blocks. It’s normally not something you truly realize until you are in a high emotions situation or a situation when you are around the same people day in and out where you begin to realize bits and pieces of yourself through them.

You guys have been the most wonderful piece of self discovery.

Because of everyone of you I’ve not only learned more of who I am, but more of who I want to be.

And I believe every time I said I wanted to run it was because all of the things I was learning and feeling and desiring were becoming far too big for the life I had been living. All the ugly surfacing were dreams and desires and hopes I had buried long ago for fear of getting hurt.

Before I moved here, I would, here and there, struggle with comparison and jealousy and loneliness and lack of identity, but the last year and a half all of those things have been stirred up, multiplied and fleshed out.

And that has made me want to run.

But not you guys.

Everyone of you has kept my feet planted.

Because I think, I believe, I know, that there are aspects in each and everyone of you that have caused me to want more, desire more, be more.

That all became too big for my heart.

You guys believed in me when I didn’t think I had anything to believe in.

You chose more for me when I thought I was done with more.

What a beautiful thing.

And it causes me to think of the people I had and still very much have before here, that encouraged me to get to this place, and the people before that and that.

My life journey is filled with people. Beautiful, lovely, whimsical human beings from all places and countries and backgrounds.

My desire in life is to be so wholly myself that it causes others to see more of who they are.

And Bellingham has been a shocking, surprising, not always welcome huge step towards this very thing.

Bellingfamily and Yfamily and all those connected to the two, I need you to know that I’ve never wanted to run from you. I’ve wanted to run from the life that was getting too beautifully big for the box I had. I wanted to run from the emotions that all of that was bringing up that I’d gotten supremely used to ignoring.

But you? Never you.

PS

Find people. Find multiple groups of people. Find people you agree with. Find people you disagree with. People who live life differently then you and those who walk the same road. Find people who worship the same and find those who believe differently. Sit across tables from them, break bread them, clink glasses with them. Laugh with them.

And learn, even if it’s just for a night.

Learn who they are, where they come from, how they make a sandwich.

And when you wake up, I guarantee you will have found more of yourself.

In the similarities, the differences and the universal truths.

Let’s choose, daily, to bring the people around us to more of who they are.

ramblings

(maybe one day I’ll make you cry over a vampire baby)

I had the privilege and the great joy of living an amazing story in 2013. I set foot in 11 countries, I had conversation that superseded language and religion. I climbed Table Mountain in South Africa and dropped down waterfalls in Ecuador. I watched the sun go down over the Indian Ocean from the balcony of my flat in Mozambique. I got a tattoo in Romania and held lots and lots of babies EVERYWHERE

I know what you’re thinking: How in the world do you top that?

I have so many stories to tell from last year. Like the time a babushka gave me a sweater in Ukraine or about how much I love Bangkok. Or how in Mozi we ended up on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean surrounded by fishermen.

But when I really think about it, when I really delve into it; my stories about life were pretty awesome before then. They just weren’t wrapped up in foreign countries.

Like how I once changed 30+ diapers at an event at a church in one day. Or how my preschoolers say the best things. Or that one night when my friends and I ran into Dennis Rodham and he bought us drinks.

Piclab-3                                   ((a piece of story//extreme home makeover South Africa))

I can tell stories upon stories of heartache, of loss, of joy, of laughter and stories upon stories of how Jesus always heals us.

We ALL have jaw-dropping stories whether we believe it or not.

It’s just whether or not we choose to believe them or tell them.

Stories don’t just have to be encouraging or heartbreaking.

Story telling is an art form. Whether they are fiction or non-fiction. Whether they are about you or not.

I appreciate all forms. For instance last week I watched the finales of my two favorite show. (The Vampire Diaries and the Originals JUDGE ME I DON’T CARE) and those writers, MAN, can they weave a story. I’m still easily emotional over a magical baby and the death of a character whose redemption is 5 seasons in the making. I had all of the feels and emotions over vampires who don’t actually exist because their story was told so well. I can appreciate that greatly. The heart and creativity that goes into making people cry over murderous vampires.

What would happen if we took that ability, that gift to tell our own stories as well?

What do you think would happen?

Piclab-2                                                            ((a piece of story// COFFEE))

We all have story. Some we choose to tell, some we hold close to our hearts. I’ve told a lot of story over the years, I’ve written a lot down, shared them in classes, with friends, in bible studies. Like how I finally in this blog talked about Joe or how I wrote my heart into a fear piece that I sent to a lot of my friends. We were meant to do that. To share our hearts, our experiences with each other.

I don’t think God used the written word to reach so many because it was the “easiest” way. I think he used it as an example to us. For us to share our stories, to share what he taught us, to share what we’ve been through. To share how we need to come together.

It’s ingrained in us.

Why do you think we cram on couches week after week to see if Caroline ever shows up in New Orleans, or if Damon is going to come back from the dead (#toosoon) or are Wade and Zoe FINALLY going to be together for heavens sake! (that’s all just me? Once again; judge away)**

Because we are a people who long to be involved in story. And sometimes we think that those stories being told on a TV or in a book or on the big screen are bigger and more important than what we walk in daily.

Spoiler alert: they’re not.

Every action we make, every minute in our day is filled with good story whether we know it or not. It’s just whether once again we choose to make it be so.

If you ever want to hear more from my life, or read my piece on fear, let me know. I’ll tell you about holding babies into all hours of the night in South Africa or scraping paint of bathroom tile for hours on end. I can talk to you about working with kids from the foster system, or all of the ridiculous things that were said in the pink room the year Em and I had all boys in JK.

And I can tell you lots and lots about Jesus.

IMG_8117                                             ((a piece of story// jay leno california perfection))

We need to step into telling stories more, make it a practice.

I’m going to try to be better at it: writing them down, typing them out.

Even attempting to fix the fact that I suck at creating dialogue in story and working on some fiction pieces that are floating in my head.

I’m going to continue to live a good story whether I am sitting listening to the train go by in Kingsburg or whether I am sitting next to the Mediterranean in Spain.

IMG_3949

Story is story and our lives are the same wherever our feet may lie. It all lies in the telling. And if choose to allow others into them.

**if you understood ANY of those references….we should talk.

(to learn more about my story and where I am off to next check this out)