Monday, January 17, 2011

Memorable Scenes

For Christmas I asked for the book A Millions Miles In A Thousand Years, which I so thankfully received. I love the author, Donald Miller, but honestly had no idea what the book was about until I cracked open the first page. To say that I love this book would be true, but to say I've been challenged and energized by this book would be a better statement. Million Miles is simply a book about creating and writing a story. It seems redundant to read a story about writing a story, but somehow he makes it work, and challenges me to not just write stories in my head, but to live them out loud. In real time.

Tonight's read was about how every great story has a memorable scene. The pivotal scene in a movie does not usually happen in a Starbucks, nor does it happen in some one's living room. It happens on a mountain top. Or at the foot of the ocean. As I read this my mind quickly started drifting to a few of my memorable scenes and I was suddenly right back there, in those places, in those moments, reliving greatness:

~On the ice in 1997, in a white and gold costume, landing my second double-double combination in front of friends and family, and feeling the realization that I would pass my senior freestyle, figure skating test before I officially hung up my skates for college. 13 years of training, early mornings, 6 days a week was worth it only 45 seconds into my program.
~Running across the sand with friends as we experienced Folly Beach for the first time. Leaving that same sand only 13 days later, I walked to the car knowing I had found my second home and that I would return. Little did I know I'd spend 13 years there and counting.
~Falling head first out of an airplane after one of my best friends lost her boyfriend so that she could release his ashes from 13,000 feet. Seeing the earth below me once my shoot opened, and gliding across the sky in complete and utter silence would give me the courage and knowledge that I could do anything if given the opportunity and the will. We are greater than our fears.
~Driving away from a church, on a dirt road in Nicaragua, after saying goodbye at the first clinic I had ever served in, knowing I would never see the faces again that I had just fallen in love with. Painful and beautiful all at the same time.
~Riding a jet-ski off of the Gulf of Mexico out into literally the deep blue sea until land was just a speck. Having the guide dive down and bring up a starfish for me to hold was like someone bringing up a handful of gold.

I don't know what my future holds, but I do know that I don't plan on waiting around in coffee shops and my living room for greatness to take place. Mountain tops, oceans, and dirt roads, here I come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Learned In My 31st Year.

Your thirties are still better than your 20's. Anything is possible. Curve balls multiply. The more you can handle, the more people throw your way. Change is inevitable, unless it pertains my trusty nokia flip phone from 2002. I do not want an iPhone. I am the ONLY person who does not want an iPhone. I like apple Saki, who knew? Africa is not in my future for 2011 as I planned in 2010. Nicaragua is still very present, and Africa will wait until the Lord calls me there Himself. Fear can have the biggest foothold in your life. Risks are scary. Not taking risks is just as scary. Love hurts. Sandra Bullock rocks. I can handle living with 3 girls and 6 animals for one week in my humble townhouse if needed to help a friend. Best friends sometimes move home(YAY). The Bachelor is an addiction, regardless of whether or not I can stand the man they chose. Cooking is therapeutic. I am a slight hoarder. I miss my family. I love snow. Ice can shut down a city. Prom dresses can change lives. I still need to start working out. Falling down can hurt long after your pride heals. You can accomplish great things if you stop listening to the "you can't do it voices" in your own head and listen to the encouraging words of others. Any movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2010 was awful. I cry at the drop off a hat when happy, sad, angry, etc... I will not watch another Paranormal Activity movie. My mom will try and sucker me in to every Paranormal Activity movie. Mom usually wins. Darn it. I have amazing people in my life. I have more than I deserve. I am committed to making my 32nd year the best it can be.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Christmas Break Highlight...

...well, one of my many highlights, but the true topper was serving at the Rockford Rescue Mission with my mom. I've done my fair share of community outreach projects over the years, but this past week's event was by far one of the coolest thing I have done. Ever.

When I arrived home, my mom invited to serve lunch with her and her mission trip teammates at the local rescue mission. Seeing as though I had nothing planned and with the event still allotting ample time for me to sleep in, I thought "why not". Not exactly selfless, but at least I agreed based on my wide open calendar. So off we went in the snow and cold to serve what I thought would be your average soup kitchen lunch. Boy was I wrong.

In we walked to a Christmas wonderland, where every table had fresh flowers, hand decorated place mats, goodie bags with snacks and candy, and Christmas trees and decor galore. These people were doing it up right! We quickly learned that this would be one of only 2 seated and served meals these people will get throughout the year. They would come in, find a seat and be served by yours truly. I was quickly humbled by the fact that we really were going to be "serving" these folks their one, hot Christmas meal. No soup and stale bread would ensue, but hot and fresh ham, potatoes, green bean casseroles, etc...

While we began to serve up the plates (I was graced with the duty of potato scooper), we watched as members of their women's recovery program preformed a Christmas dance routine in white robes. The song they chose was about trials and struggles, but that the Lord was with you through it all. As they danced to the words, people slowly started standing up one by one in the crowd and clapping and shouting praises to the Lord. It broke my heart and warmed it at the same time that these people who literally have nothing but what they carry in a duffel bag, could still shout praises to their God. I knew in that second that I know nothing of struggles. Not a thing.

After the meal concluded, we were blessed to be able to give gifts to each attendee before they headed back out into the balmy temps of an Illinois winter. A Bible, new gloves, new socks, and a scarf were given to each person as they left. Being the resident scarf passer-outer, I was able to give them some warmth as they thanked us and wished us a Merry Christmas. Insert humbled heart once again. One of the younger men stopped and chatted for a moment and I asked where he was from. He said "he moved here from NY a few years ago" and I couldn't help but wonder if he chased a dream here only to be cold, alone and homeless a few years later. I know they all have stories, as we all do, but I wish I had had the time to learn more of them.

Last but not least, after we were all done and our aprons were in the trash, the rescue mission staff sat us down and fed us lunch. It was so unnecessary, but so cool to be eating exactly what they had eaten and only after making sure they were served first. With hearts and bellies full we all bundled back up to the brave the streets. Or at least from the mission to our cars. Humbled once again as we drove away, heat blasting, my mind wandered as we passed our diners gathered along the street corners and the bus station. Now what do they do, I thought quietly.

It's only January 4th, but I'm already looking forward to serving that meal again next year. Granted it was hot and sweaty, my wrist hurt from scooping so quickly, and we smelled a bit like ham the rest of the day, but wearing a hair net in a cafeteria line has never felt so good. I'm so thankful for the lives we encountered, the mouths we fed, and the necks we warmed. I'm praying their still a little bit toastier somewhere in Rockford.