moving day

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”                                          -On the Road, Jack Kerouac

I hate moving.

My life has been marked by transition. change. motion.

In April of this year, I moved into a new apartment.

In March, I packed up my car, drove fifteen hours across five states and moved into a new house and a new desk at a new job.

In 2011, I moved to a different country every month for eleven months.

In 2010, I moved out of my college house and into a cabin in the San Juans.

In 2009, I packed my maletas and spent a semester taking siestas, drinking sangria, and enjoying the Mediterranean coast, oh and studying too.

In the years leading up to these, I moved from the home of my parents, to a dorm, to a townhouse, to a house, with a many a camp cabin in the summers.

If you haven’t gotten it yet, I move around a lot. And I’m not even a military brat.

Some moves are better than others. Some easier, some harder.

The thing about moving is there’s always change.

Sometimes I welcome change with open arms; like the hot summer sun warming your skin when you step out of a chilly movie theater. I love that feeling. Sure, it may be 95 degrees out, but for those few moments you don’t even care because you just spent the past two hours freezing your ba donk off, stuffing your face with popcorn and pulling your knees into your chest.

Other times I dread it. Not so much because of where I’m headed, but what I am leaving behind. People, places, memories.

But I love and hate altogether the way moving opens your eyes to things, new opportunities, old ideas, and it invites the new eyes of others to look upon you, seeing you differently than before.

For some, this is exactly what you need. You were the nerd in high school. The loner, the loser. Or maybe just went unnoticed. College is a new stage and life’s giving you the chance to write your own script from scratch. You can be anyone you want to be. Sorority girl. Student gov. Coffee shop barista  hippie.

For others, a life change is much harder to grasp. You were the team leader, organizational president, known for this or that and respected for it- people knew your name even when you didn’t know theirs. You step into a new community and you’re back at square one.

Typically, we’ve found ourselves at one of these places in some ways.

The beauty in transition is the newness, the chance to start over in even the littlest things improving our lives, our character, our faith. New obstacles arise and challenge us in new ways, while others are laid to rest if even for a season.

I’m learning a lot about change, mostly by firsthand experience. I accept it, learn from it. Seek out feedback from those around me.

Over the past couple months, Change has continued to strike…but I’m not talking about that—yet. Until then, chew on this:

  • What has changed in your life this month? This year? The last five years?
  • How did you handle that change?
  • What would you do differently next time?
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God Done Shed His Grace, Now Pass The Potato Salad!

People, this is ‘Merica. And after an extensive Google search I stand disappointed. Image

Let me catch you up… A group of about 8-10 of my friends were planning to celebrate our nation’s independence soaking up the rays and sailing the high seas of Lake Lanier here in North Georgia. Unfortunately, our boat plans fell through last night. ugh.

This morning, I had a spring in my step, couldn’t let nautical disappointment drag me down. Of course, my roommates were still sleeping when I woke up, so I spent the first two hours of my holiday waiting around like a kid on Christmas morning. Come on, people….how much longer can you sleep????

When they awoke from their slumber, I greeted them with patriotic devotion and ecstasy. And that means I made them listen to songs like the National Anthem, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, and, my favorite, Ray Charles’ rendition of America the Beautiful while I tried to keep myself from dancing around the apartment waving an imaginary flag.

A great way to salute our great nation, no?

We’re having a cookout tonight followed by fireworks. That’s a check check for American spirit. But we were trying to think of other American things to do to commemorate this special day. Clearly, I asked the all-knowing Google.

Shoot man. I came out with nada. There are tons of lists like “Top 10 Things to do in New York on July 4th” or “How To Keep God in our Government”… great. What can I do today, not in NYC or on Capitol Hill?

So, I decided to make my own list for all of you out there sharing in my frustration.

Things every American should do on the Fourth of July:

  1. Go to a parade- a real one where they ride horses, throw those peanut butter candies, and sound a cannon and the beginning and end of it. Consider prairie skirts as an added bonus.
  2. Sing patriotic songs at the top of your lungs (see playlist above). Ya know, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear? Well that’s how I feel about Independence Day, too.
  3. Eat fried food.Image
  4. Wear an obnoxious amount of red, white, and blue. Bonus points if it’s in denim form. I’m going to get some temporary tattoos of American flags, stars, and bald eagles as soon as I finish writing this blog. Seriously.
  5. Drink beer. American beer. None of that Dutch stuff today.
  6. Be in the sunshine (preferably near the water). What better souvenir from your holiday fun than showing off your lobster-colored sunburn to your co-workers tomorrow.
  7. Change your Facebook profile picture to some political/religious statement with those really professional-looking patriotic graphics. When’s a better time to convert all those liberal heathens than on July 4th? I think you get an extra jewel in your crown for that.
  8. Sparklers. Duh.
  9. Watch fireworks with people you love. I reeeeaaaallllyy love fireworks. I ooh and ahhh and declare each one as my favorite only to be blown away by the next one bursting against the night sky. I get a little emotional at this part of the day. I blame Chris Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman.
  10. Everywhere you go today repeat this over and over: ‘Merica. Gets em every time.

Now go, celebrate! Eat, drink, and be merry! Thank God he done shed his grace on us and thanks to all who made America’s freedom a reality!

When I Just Don’t Feel Like Believing

Several days ago my aunt, Cheryl, emailed an old blog post from Kisses from Katie to me. In the post, Katie describes the journey of a burn victim coming to know Jesus Christ as savior and lover of his soul.

252 days of wrapping and talking and laughing and crying later, new skin covered this once dead area. The leg that so many thought was lost could walk and even run. And the man that so many thought was hopeless had been sober for over 6 months. A week later, this physically healed man walked into my kitchen as [he] grinned from ear to ear. “I believe it,” he announced, “today I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Simple as that.

These are the reminders I need when I see such immense pain and complete devastation of our depraved world.

Traveling the world allows you to see the wonders and beauty God spoke into existence and the creativity He placed inside man to design with our own hands and it’s breathtaking.

But what equally steals my breath is the unexplainable sorrow and darkness of the world: the starvation, poverty, injustice, sickness and death, perversion, inequality, and filth.

The Killing Fields in Cambodia. Red Light districts in Thailand, Malaysia and India. Societal outcasts of the Northern Territory, Australia. Communism in Transnistria. Heavy spiritual darkness in Nepal. HIV/AIDS in Swaziland. Starvation in Mozambique. Child soldiers, orphans, widows, lost, dying, marginalized…

Where is the justice we’ve been promised, the redemption our souls cry out for? Where is this so-called “God of love” in the midst of the hopelessness?Floating Village, Cambodia

Then I read stories like Katie’s and remember that His ways are greater than mine, His thoughts higher than my thoughts. His love is boundless and operates in a way my mind cannot conceive. And sometimes, we have to be burned, to go through the fire before this love ever has true value to us.

In many languages, there exist multiple words for love to better explain to what degree this love operates. Unfortunately, in English we’ve come to use our one word for so many varying degrees of love that it has lost its value and authenticity.

In Hebrew, there are two specific words for God’s love: ahab and chesed. The former describes a love based on the desire and feelings stirred within the lover, the great affection toward another. The latter is a love driven by unwavering commitment and loyalty. God’s heart is moved by us and His love for us is filled to capacity (which is a whole lot when you consider there’s no limits to God).

God’s love is great and beyond comprehension not just because he’s really good at it and committed to doing his job, but because he is love.

Katie’s story is such a beautiful reminder of that. To believe that there is hope in the darkness, something bigger than ourselves working out salvation for us all, that is what we must do, feel, trust, and know when everything else ceases to make sense, when it all feels like a lost cause.

It isn’t enough to trust in God’s goodness when I see it or feel it. I believe in his goodness because I trust he is good. I believe it. I believe that he has, is, and always will be, regardless of the world and my circumstances.

Eternity is in our hearts because God put it there (Ecc. 3:11), now let’s live like it.

Around here, we believe and practice the idea that you should always be sharing your story and that we are stewards of others’ stories, too. We always tell these stories no matter how big or small because you never know what kind of breakthrough you will bring to someone’s life.

Thanks for sharing, Katie and for passing the story along, Cheryl. May we all continue to be storytellers of the work God is authoring in each of our lives.

Dear Mom

Dear Mama/Momo/Madre/MamaLynn/Mam/Ma,

In my 20-some-odd years life of life, I’ve learned a thing or two by watching, talking, and doing life with you.

Do you remember the time as a child I stood at the top of the stairs in Warrenton, hands on my hips with my sassy brows raised to you?

“Mother, you have choice…” I huffed, doing my best to sound bossy despite my lisp.

Yep, I’d been watching you.

And despite this incident and a zillion others, you’ve always hugged, squeezed and loved the mess out of me.

Thanks to you…

I find myself doing things like:

  • crying when I laugh really hard
  • justifying why I’ve saved something because surely I’ll need it later
  • craving Mexican food no matter how many times I’ve consumed it in the past week
  • adding cilantro, lime and garlic to everything I cook

I say things like:

  • poop or get off the pot
  • it ain’t gonna get no greener
  • I am literally in a panic! (ok, I’ve never said that, but had to throw it in)

I’ll of course always love (alongside you):

  • model home tours
  • pedicures
  • Rocky mountain getaways
  • Mama’s cafe

I’ve also learned:

  • “this, too, shall pass”
  • to see the good in everyone and everything
  • you’re never too old for fun
  • treasure the moment
  • love is worth the risk

Being the woman of many quirks I am, I owe so much to you. We are quite a pair, so different and yet just alike all at the same time.

No matter how much time or distance stands between us, I’ve never gone a day without your love- knowing, feeling, believing in its depth and breadth.

You are a woman chasing after the heart of God. You are my prayer warrior.

I love you, look up to you and believe in you- the way you’ve always believed in me, no matter how big my dreams get to be.

thanks.

Con mucho cariño,

your Kumquat May

And a special thanks to the woman who raised my mom,- the woman she watched and learned  all things motherhood from…the woman whose name I proudly bear! To my GRANDmother, Grandmama, I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mexcellence.

I had intended to write both witty and thought-provoking material for y’all today, especially considering this marks my first official post on my new blog site.

However, I am too busy observing Cinco de Mayo to do such a thing. So I leave you with this, enjoy.

Have a Mexcellent day! Ole!