Wednesday, May 28, 2014

people watching / soul searching

People-watching. Airports, museums, coffeeshops, markets, hostels, street corners, restaurants, parks, beaches, theatres, sidewalks, markets, living rooms. People are so fascinating to me.  Each one with individual stories.  Battles and struggles deep in their hearts, untold stories and open pages, joys and pains and loves.  Likes and dislikes, intricacies of personalities and emotions, seeing their faces as they observe and interact and absorb and listen and emote and laugh and relate.  How they interact with friends, how they interact with strangers.  Not just humans.  Souls.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Oklahoma, O-K!

Let me tell you something about traveling: it surprises you.  You can go someplace as lively and bright as Chicago or as quaint and beautiful as Strasbourg, and you leave a part of yourself there.  And then you can go someplace as seemingly mundane and unexciting as Oklahoma, just a week and a half, and you don't leave a part, but your entire heart in those plains.

I went to Oklahoma in January and spent one of the sweetest weekends of my life with one of my dearest friends, and then the following week with some of the best people I know at TeenPact's staff training.  I wish I could describe to you how unexpectedly and strongly I wanted to go to Oklahoma again, how unlikely it seemed I'd be able to go, how I sent that last email and prayed a last time and finally felt surrendered to God about it and that afternoon I suddenly found a reply in my inbox offering me a spot on the Oklahoma team.  In the midst of a week of working fulltime and tech week/performances for A Little Princess and little to no sleep, I planned out getting to Oklahoma and have never felt more excited or at peace about anything.

Being added to the OK1 TeenPact staff team was one of the more last minute things that's happened to me this year, and I also consider it one of the best.  I was the only out-of-state staffer, which I knew going in, but I never felt like the outsider for a minute.  I felt like I fit right into their circle and I fell in love with that group of people and it was just right.

One thing that has blown my mind this season is the purpose God has had for me in every single place I've been.  As I sat listening to the message during evening sessions, I was in awe that it was not just for the students, but something I need to hear as well, a continuation of God's faithfulness.  As stressful as the week leading up to my departure was, every day there was a confirmation that this was where God had me.

GUYS I REALLY LOVE OKLAHOMA.  People keep asking me why and telling me it's such an abnormal place to love so much, and I can't quite explain it--and no it's not just because there's a musical written about it.  Okies are literally the nicest people I've ever met.  It sounds so cheesy and ridiculous, but I cannot get over how much I adore those people.  It just keeps coming back to those people I love so much and how much they love Jesus and how that naturally defines the way they love other people and each other.  I think that's the core of it, too--that the core of our friendships was and is Jesus, and that makes it more precious to me than anything.  I stayed the weekend with a couple of those friends the weekend after the class and it was the sweetest thing to be a part of just for that short time.  I want to live in Oklahoma.  Before I'd even left I was already scheming how and when I could go back.

Reagan, you are a solid and kind and encouraging leader. Thank you for not just being a godly leader, but a great friend.
Rachael (Joy), you are the real deal. I love how genuine you are, and your sarcasm and wisdom both mean the world to me.
Andrew, you are full of enthusiasm and excitement about life, and your outgoing personality and energy is contagious.
Ethan, you are hilarious, but also deep.  The way you seek Jesus and how that spills over into your passion for people inspires me.
Rachel (Raquel), you have a sweet joy that shines through everything you say and do. Seeing how big your heart is was such an incredible thing.
Brenden, you are kind and you have a gift for making people feel valued. Thanks for making me feel like a part of your group, and for living out Jesus's love in your love for other people.
Meg, you are precious and refreshing and sweet and a joy.  You inspire me with your desire to follow Jesus and the passions he has given you.
Rachel (Anne), you are passionate and dramatic and joyful and so fun to be around. I appreciate your honesty, your heart, your thoughtfulness, your friendship.
Josiah, you make me laugh more than you know and yet you are also wise. Your heart to trust in and follow God is amazing.
Parker, you are solid and steady and dependable, as well as surprising and funny and real. I appreciate your good conversations and your willingness to serve.

You all don't know how much you mean to me.  Everything I'm writing seems incoherent because it's just not an accurate description of how much that week impacted me.  Now you all can laugh because I'm writing about you on my blog for all my "internet friends," hehe.

So, currently?  I'm adjusting to living without a heart since I left mine in Oklahoma.  In all honesty, I am so grateful that Oklahoma is where God had me during that week, as unlikely as it seemed.  God is active and he is real and wow does he love me.  Oklahoma, I'll be back.