"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the bordeom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."
-- Frederick Buechner
(A Christmas Break picture gallery: Here)
It's hard to believe as I sit at my desk in my lovely little room at college that I have unexpectedly been to the States and back again in the past month. I am pleased to report that I got home for Christmas this year for the first time since moving to England 2 1/2 years ago!! It would have been my 3rd in a row spent away from my family and in the end they wouldn't stand for it :) So my parents and my little brother put forth the money to fly me back just in time to surprise my 3 other siblings! I assure you there were many gaping mouths and much squealing, which was a lot of fun. My 2 year old niece may have given the best reaction, though, when she ran and jumped into my arms, squeezed me around the neck and exclaimed, "Auntie, you're here! You're at my house! You're not in En'an (England)! Did you fly in an airplane across the ocean, Auntie? Auntie, you're here! You're here!" :) Perhaps needless to say, it has been a preciouspreciousprecious holiday season and it was hard to leave-- especially with my aforementioned 2 year old niece repeating over and over again throughout my 3 weeks in a suitably somber tone, "Neber, neber do bat to En'an, Auntie" (Never, never go back to England, Auntie).
So, I saw this pivotal new year in here in Minnesota with my very own lovely family, which was rather surreal. 2007 has been a strange, strange thing-- in many ways a story from a novel, not my life. It started during a visit by my parents and youngest brother to my beloved England, then onto a heartbreaking and beautiful 6 week mission placement in Romania after which I'll never be the same, the completion of my middle year of college, my last student-summer back in the states to nanny and spend as much time as possible with friends and family, including a new baby niece!, trying my hand at freelance writing (no luck yet but I'm hopeful as it's still early on), and the start (and ensuing stress!) of my final year of college back in the UK. Expanded horizons, new friends, new loves, new places, new homes of the heart, new families of the heart, deep deep friendships, the fading of others, love, heartbreak, despair and joyjoyjoy. Blessings without number, hurts beyond measure. Lessons started and still being learned. Dancing with the King on the heights as well as falling from grace and into the arms of apathy. 2007 proved a journey I'll never forget.
And now an epic 2008! This year I will graduate from college-- penniless, alone, and half-way around the world, with a heart for loving on His broken people in this broken world. I have little idea of what comes next, only that I'll probably continue to find His way for me in His ministry making my vagabond home here in Europe for now. Who knows where He'll take me or how He'll care for me or what He'll show me or how He'll shape me and use me. But I know that I have the choice of which eyes to see any situation through, and I want to choose His. I will not fear life this year. I will live it with all I have. Because time is precious, life is a gift, sometimes tears are more real than smiles, and He is meant to be this scary adventure that He is. I want all of Him, no matter what it takes-- at least I want to want that. It is a frightening thing to stare into the face of God and offer Him everything, knowing He is not safe by our small-minded standards. But because He is so good, it is a far more miserable thing not to. So... here's to 2008. A year of more of Him in all of our lives no matter the roads He must lead us down to get us there...
I so wish I could have touched base with everyone back in MN while I was home, especially since I truly don't know when the next time is that I'll be there. But instead I offer up my prayers for each of you reading this (whether in MN or anywhere else in the world you might be!) and holding me in yours.
I'll be in touch soon from this year's placement wherever it may end up being (I guess we'll all be surprised!). Until then, I pray you're seeking hard after a risen (alive, active, moving, loving, compassionate, forgiving, holy, scary, adventurous, delightful) King!
"Until you have given yourself to Him you will not have a real self."-- C.S. Lewis
(The picture link again: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?Uc=102dzu8o.bmsx06k8&Uy=euz8a&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0&mode=fromshare&conn_speed=1)