Keeping Track

Last night I spent a few hours with dear friends at LAX during a layover waiting for their flight to Hong Kong. It really goes like this: China, Malaysia, then Cambodia. They'll be in Cambodia and Vietnam for the next two years serving as missionaries. I left them around 8PM, and now, 25 hours later, I'm glad to see that they're finally past the halfway point in their travels. I've been checking in on their flight status approximately every three hours since 4AM.

As I watched the image of a plane make its way to various points over the Pacific Ocean, I thought that plane might as well be shaped like a heart. It didn't represent an aircraft moving at hundreds of miles per hour through different timezones and eventually into a completely different day, it was showing me where I could find people I love.

Every time I move, I find comfort in replaying familiar scenes in my mind. I imagine friends and family going about their normal daily tasks. Keeping on in their lives exactly where I left them. I imagine Ashleigh power-housing at United Way, Regan loving on Eva with Eli laying nearby. Meemaw is moving around from task to task, only to be interrupted by her favorite programs and three square meals. Grammy and Mammy reading books. Jake's parents are cozy upstairs watching something on television before bed. Mary Bliss sitting in the living room with her laptop and different bits of reading material around her, making dinner while listening to the news on NPR, or the sound of her walking up and down her stairs several times a day.

Certainly these scenes change. Mammy is in heaven now. Meemaw's normal days have been interrupted by [bleepity blank bleepin'] cancer. I don't know what sound Mary Bliss's feet will make as she walks around her apartments in Cambodia and Vietnam. Change is hard, and it still gets the better of me from time to time, but I've experienced enough of it to understand that change is one of the greatest catalysts for growth. And in that sense, I welcome it, even if begrudgingly at times. It will challenge me, and shake me, and chew me up and spit me out, but in my response to each shift lies opportunity for elevation. I gain a new view, a new sense of being, a new way of imagining.

Lewis and Mary Bliss will soon not have a way for me to track their every move, but I know that they are brimming with goodness and love, and it's not at all hard for me to imagine them spending their days sharing that whenever and however they can. You can follow their mission blog at Along the Hong.
(Face-timing with two young grandsons, the youngest of whom is shaping up to be an expert photo bomber.)

Counting the miles:

PS: Just in case you're keeping track, this is Day 299 in Los Angeles, and you know what? I've started feeling a bit fond of my new city.

Playing Priest

About a month ago, Cora wanted to play "Priest." She spent the morning preparing for the role, including making a special bowl out of clay to hold the holy water. After the bowl had baked and cooled, she finished her preparations and called us into the living room. The piano bench was our pew.

She broke bread and invited us to take communion. We each drank from the communal cup. She sprinkled us with holy water using an orange KitchenAid teaspoon. She taught us the story of Jesus in Gethsemane, had us contemplate our interactions with others, and how we could do better. When she finished, she blessed and sent us on our way. 

How can I ever say, "Honey Child, no matter what you feel, nor how much you want something, as it stands, both in your school and in the faith tradition of you mother, you cannot be a priest." 

I won't ever tell her that. 

I'll tell her that sometimes a well-meaning community will defend something because it's what they know, not because it should be upheld. And sometimes the position of those we love will make us question ourselves, and sometimes they won't remember to be kind, but it doesn't mean we can't live what we know so deep down inside is right. 

Someday we'll collectively be ready.

My 40 Days

I gave up Facebook for Lent this year. I have done so for the last three years.

The difference?

Easter was 51 days ago, and I'm still not back on Facebook. My 40 days has turned into 91 days and counting, and it has been a blessed break.

I've been able to gather, regroup, think through things without idle distractions, without watching what I was saying because I wasn't sharing. The truth is that my time on social media, via Facebook and my blog, has been tricky at times. It's difficult when my main form of sharing, computing, of understanding has always been writing and sharing some of that writing with others. Involved in any type of sharing is the chance for criticism. I always thought I had pretty tough skin when it came to criticism. I value different opinions. The difficulty came not from simple sharing of opinions and ideas, but from people who took the things I said and used them as a soapbox for their own rants. Lost in their ranting was always the real point of what I was trying to say. My favorite term for such instances has become "Bully Pulpit." Because I care deeply about most of the things I write about, it was hard to see not only ideas, but ME, my character being dragged through the mud.

The criticism didn't stay in the confines of social media outlets. I became the topic of a lot of gossip, mostly by people I love dearly. For as thick as I thought my skin was, I couldn't help but be hurt by that. There's nothing I can do about how people perceive me. I can't change it. But when love is involved... it's very hard to know that people are only willing to accept a very narrow and misconstrued perception of me. People who I thought would dig a little deeper, and wouldn't just go along with the most sensational piece of trash-talk attached my name. I was hurt and disappointed.

The last year has been a time of huge changes. Of expansion in ways I could have never imagined. It was so good to step back, to get away, to be free of those waiting to jump on and twist something I said in any way they saw fit.

What have I been doing with all of my free time? A lot of reading. Yoga. Meditation. Prayer. Becoming acquainted with my new city. Loving on my family. Turning 30. Not cooking (this is so unlike me). Hiking. Beaching. Thinking. Enjoying my time in the wilderness.

I exist outside of Facebook. We all do. :) While I'll never say "never," right now isn't the right time to reactivate my account. But I have missed writing. So here I am. Back at it.

Ms. President - A Conversation with Cora

A conversation with Cora -

Mom, why can't females be president?
Me: They can be.
C: How do you know?
Me: Don't you believe anything I say?
C: Yes, but 44 presidents, and no girls?
Me: [In my head: "touché" and an expletive]: Well, it might happen soon.

We went on to talk about Hillary Clinton running in 2008, not getting the party nomination, but that she's running again. There are certainly women who have run, and been their tiny party's nomination, but I didn't bring them up just yet. I don't want her to see how stacked the odds have been. All politics aside, I need there to be a Ms. President. I have a point to prove to our daughters.


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