20 things I brought back with me from three months in Europe

1240212_10153273930545004_1372512634_nI came home with 20 take-a-ways from my time abroad. Here’s the list:

1. No matter where we find ourselves, our mission is always the same, to love well those in front of us, to encourage people in Jesus, to give selflessly, to be people of peace, to offer hospitality, and to be light. This is one of the take-a-ways from my time abroad. Location never changes our mission.

2. Learning and/or trying to speak someone else’s language is one of the fastest and deepest ways to show a person of another culture you value them.

3. When the desire is to be a blessing. There is never a lack of opportunity. Expecting the miraculous connection daily has become a habit in many ways.

4. There is much to celebrate about what good is being done around world through all kinds of people from all kinds of places. I’ve been thankful to hear stories of this good as I’ve been abroad. Expecting that God is working in every country, through all people groups causes me to want to learn from others… more than teach them. Being a listener and a learner is crucial and opens us up to experiences and stories we’d otherwise miss.

5. History informs the present. It’s important to learn the history of a place as a means to love others of various cultures. Ask questions about a place. Learn about the faith history and the story of the people. This will always help you to better understand the present.

6. The differences between cultures and peoples are beautiful expressions of human life that are to be celebrated. Allow differences to be a guide to understanding rather than division or judgement.

7. Perception and reality are often very different things. Asking questions and believing the best are always the best way to approach situations that seem off. Personality, culture, circumstance and more often affect others perception. As I’ve been abroad I continue to see the value as I assume the best and seek to understand.

8. Asking questions and really caring about the answers communicates that I value another’s story. Questions are a doorway to relationship.

9. Creatives hold a very important place in shaping cultures for good. Victor Hugo played a part in saving Notre Dame, which was to be torn down, by writing about it in a book, artists tell the stories of good, like Leprojet Imagine in Paris. Others, like Jonathan Boulet, use their creative influence to publish the story of Jesus in the New Testament, told with art and creativity. Yesterday I met George, who’s craft is pottery. He taught us of patience as he told the story of each piece’s creation. As I’ve been abroad I’ve seen, again, how creatives are using their gifts to bring about good and to speak of Jesus. The creative leader is needed in every culture.

10. True hospitality is not shown by entertaining a guest, but by offering your whole self and welcoming the whole self of those around you. Tonight I’m reminded that true hospitality is not culturally specific. Offer hospitality (I think Paul may have been on to something)

11. Being rooted and in community is hard and is important.

12. Two full days left. As I continue to reflect on lessons learned, experiences shared, people visited and places seen I am confident that love is the most powerful and life changing and unifying language. The way of Jesus always is a way of love. Love that is patient and kind, love that does not get jealous or boast in ones self, love that is not rude or self seeking, love that truly keeps no record of wrong, love that always assumes the best, always hopes and always perseveres is the kind of love that will never fail, in all cultures.

13. Our work does not define us. In fact while in Spain, I was only asked what I did for work one time in two months. This created space for others to know me and my heart, not just how I make a living. Not all cultures think of success, accomplishment and responsibility in the same terms as those of us in the US. There is much to learn from this way of thinking.

14. Freedom has as much to do with saying no as it does with being able to say yes.

15. Being outside and moving and walking and physically engaging with the world and our neighborhoods opens doors to relationship. For its pretty easy to drive by a person without engaging, much more difficult to walk by. Relationships gathered because of shared space are some of the best friendship surprises!

16. Every moment we have a choice to speak well of others, to treat people with kindness, to assume the best and to walk with humility. Today, as I traveled and had a few bumps along the way I am once again reminded that in all things I am to choose love and grace and kindness. These attitudes and actions are always ours to choose and are not dependent upon circumstance or the actions of others.

17. Never assume that mine is the only part of the world at play. My choices effect the lives of people all over the globe. When I choose to live in the way of Jesus, I choose to speak life and give life not only in my part of the world…. But in all of it. Our actions matter.

18. There are a lot of differences between cultures. But simply because something is different doesn’t mean it is wrong, weird, bad, rude or negative. Seeking first to understand is imperative as we seek to build relationships. (Oh yeah, this same practice works when your friends, spouse, co-workers, roommates and classmates do things differently than you.)

19. Though I’ve been gone for 3 months it feels like my time was just a split second. Thankful for the relationships formed and deepened during this time. Relationships are the most precious memento!

20. Vulnerability is found alongside freedom. For freedom greets us when we are truly honest with self and others.

Just the beginning: 25 lessons from my time in Spain

IMG_7001My time in Spain is rapidly coming to an end. I can already feel the shift in my spirit as I look to what is next. I’ve settled into a good pattern here in Altea. I’ve established good friendships. I’ve lived a very healthy life as I’ve eaten well and worked out daily. I’ve made it without being stung by stingrays or jellyfish in the Sea. I’ve spent good time with Jesus and I’ve planned ahead for my fall back in the States. I want to be able to leave Altea having completed the work I came to accomplish and to be prepared for life back in the States so I can enjoy my travels without anything left lingering in my mind.

As I reflect on my time in Altea I’m thankful for that which I’ve been reminded of, lived into or learned. Here’s a brief look:

1. Mission is not something we go off to do, it is a way of living. This can not be said enough. When mission is something we travel to participate in we actually miss mission. Mission is a way, not an event! There are times when we must travel to experience mission in other parts of the world, but on a whole mission is not something one has to travel to participate in!

2. Significance in impact or work is not determined numerically or by recognition. Significance is a matter of the Kingdom. When we pursue Him and His way and our work flows out of this pursuit our work is always significant.  Loving is always significant.

3. Speaking is only a small part of communication: Smiles, a generous heart, a kind spirit and love go far beyond words and communicate the truths one believes.

4. Making life change for the approval of others will ultimately fail. Making life change as a result of being self controlled, driven by the Spirit and out of love, will remain and will transform the whole person.

5. Friends are easily made when every person we come in contact with is seen as the image barer of God that they are.

6. Being led is a gift, when being led by a good person. Being led is a part of the feminine journey. (It is also a part of the masculine journey, but I am learning things from my perspective and I had to learn how being led was a part of being feminine.)

7. Dancing really is freeing

8. Truth really truly sets a person free. And when truth invades one part of a person’s life, all parts begin to submit themselves to truth, freeing the total person.

9. Striving is useless. Submitting is powerful.

10. There is much to the feminine journey and I’ve embraced much of mine.

11. I like tomatoes

12. Being divided in heart will always effect ones contentment.

13. One does not put on or wear beauty or femininity, one’s beauty and femininity are a result of an internal belief.

14. The sea is always beautiful until jellyfish come to town.

15. Laughter is healing and is a beautiful counselor

16 . Generosity is contagious

17. Seeing people, really seeing people will often result in loving them

18. The sun is good for the soul

19. There is a small difference between complementing one’s purse in Spanish and actually calling them a nice purse.

20. There is a small difference between complementing one’s outfit in Spanish and actually calling them a nice outfit.

21. There is a small difference between complementing one’s hair in Spanish and actually calling them nice hair.

22. You get the point

23. Being honest about one’s life will open the door for others to be honest about their own.

24. The table is redemptive

25. God is jealous for us. He has a deep deep desire for all people, everywhere to know him. God is good and God wants us! He wants us! All of us! All of the time.

There are many more lessons learned, both serious and silly. I’d love for you to ask. I’d love to share them with you. I look forward to seeing how these two months of my life will shape the many years to come.

Thanks for going on this adventure with me.

A day in the life

DSC01052The days are long here. Most days I feel as though I’ve lived two days in one. Today I woke up to a sore body from yesterday’s workout. Morning greeted me with sweltering heat. It was so hot that sweat was as common as oxygen.

The girls and I went to the outdoor market which is open every Tuesday. Every time I’ve gone I’ve thought to myself that I’d find something wonderful, but every time I’m greeted with fake leather purses, clothes from other countries and these tiny yippie dogs, which come in pink and blue and green. I swear at every turn there is another yippie dog seeking to get my attention, simply begging me to pick him out and take him home with me. I am more than confident, that will never happen.

We wandered around the market for a couple of hours as the girls looked for keepsakes and gifts for their friends. I found a pair of shoes suitable for dancing and also life back home, so I picked them up for a whopping 5 euro. I was quite pleased with my purchase, but I must tell you, as soon as it was made I was quite ready to make my way back home.

The sun beat down as though it were so angry with us and had every intention of beating us! The three of us met up and decided we should make our way back home. So, we sauntered the 1/2 mile back home in the heat of the day. By the time we got home, the three of us were so sweaty that it was as though we’d been in the sea. Gross!

We made a quick lunch and made our way to the sea. I love the sea. She greets me every day with an invitation to cool off, refresh and move. She has become a sort of friend. Her blue changes with the mood of the sky and the wind and I find myself wondering what mood she’s in each day and am excited to spend as much time with her as possible.

Today, the girls and I laid on the beach until the heat was too much, I of course did not last long at all! I was most definitely the first one to join my friend the sea for some play time. I swam a few hundred yards and eventually the others joined. The sea was cool, refreshing and was a bit rough on this particular day. We swam to where we could tread water and chat at the same time. The four of us felt free as we swam. It was as though no one was in the water with us. Our bodies moved with the rhythm of the water and our legs moved keeping our heads above the water.

Then, out of no where, one of the girls yelled, “JELLY FISH!” and the four of us swam as fast as we could to the shore! We hopped, well no one really hops out of the water, we more or less tiptoed our way out of the water, (I’m telling you the rocks are not exactly my idea of a good time. If I could redesign the sea shore I would definitely replace the rock with sand) and laid on our towels, where we rested the remainder of the day.

I find that I have moments of such complete abundance that I find it difficult to believe that my life is real. The most simple things fill me with a contentment and joy that is truly indescribable. Today, waking up on the beach after a long swim was one of those moments.

We walked the paseo home where we were greeted by our friends at Hot Home Pizza (If you’re ever in Altea, you must go to Hot Home Pizza! Seriously the best place to eat in town and the people amaze me with their friendship, kindness and generosity!) We invited them over for dinner on Sunday. We are going to fix a typical American meal for them. I’m excited. I believe I’m baking a pie. (Any other ideas of typical American food would be much appreciated!)

We walked in the house, greeted by a waft of hot, humid air. Each of us took cold showers and then one of the girls and I went out for a drink and to do some coaching. It was so good to sit with her as she discovered things about herself and made a list of goals for the fall. I then asked her if she would talk to me in Spanish for a bit and we ended up talking for a good while all in spanish. I’m learning… it’s slow for sure, but I’m doing much better than I thought. Though my sentence structure is terrible in every way!

Tonight we had a few friends over for dinner, we talked and laughed for hours and hours. I love the lingering conversations and simple meals. We planned future events with our friends here as the girls’ time here is winding down. Friday evening we are going salsa dancing again, Saturday we are watching fireworks (there is a famous firework display here on Saturday. Apparently the show lasts for 45 minutes! There are posters everywhere about it.) Then Sunday we will have our friends over for lunch and also a salsa lesson. Gracie leaves Sunday night and Claire leaves on Tuesday. The time is slipping away!

Life is full and simple here. I don’t try to figure out how to make a bigger difference. I don’t seek to be a part of big things. I don’t strive and try to do great things, I simply love the people I’m with and seek to make friends and love well. I don’t hurry. I don’t have any anxiety. I don’t fill my time wondering if I’m doing enough significant things. I simply know each person in front of me is significant and that they are the significant to which I am called. It’s humbling and revealing really.

I strive so much back in the States. I seek to become something. Here I simply am okay with being. I’m remarkably thankful.

The most simple seems to be the most profound and today, I’m reveling in the simplicity.

So I went dancing

profile-imageI stared at my closet, the choices were slim as one can only have so many clothes with them as they travel. The moment seemed rather important. I chose the bright yellow sundress as it was the best dress to twirl in and I was told that I should choose a dress I like to twirl in. The dress fell on me as if I were wearing someone else’s clothes who was much larger than me, but it’s what I had.

I walked into the bathroom, put up my hair, put on a little make-up and found the right jewelry to complete the outfit. I was ready!

There was knock on the door and I grabbed my last things and headed out the door. Tonight I was going to live into freedom, I thought to myself.

For on this night, I was going to dance.

For me, dancing has been something that I’ve kept myself from, because I’ve had so much brokenness around my body and dancing… well dancing is all about the body.

As I came to Spain I knew that I would dance. I knew that I would at some point put on the dress, wear the hair up and ready myself to go step into something new and this was the night.

I got in the car with my friend and three of her friends from Altea. The five of us headed off to Benidorm where I would dance salsa for the first time. I was ready, excited, nervous and momentarily tempted with thoughts of nervousness and timidity.

The club was not that full as the clubs here don’t really become active until well after 2 in the morning. The music played and I watched as women and men would take the floor and dance with such grace, confidence and sensuality it was as though they were all talking, but no words were spoken.

Salsa, itself is quite sensual. It is a dance that is felt deep within.

As I began dancing I was in my head too much. I wouldn’t feel the music, I’d try to think it. I would do my best to move to the rhythm, make the right steps, keep eye contact and try really hard not to bump into any of the people around me. I was all in my head and I had no heart at all. I couldn’t tell you what music was playing. It was all in my head.

I found that I would take on the qualities of the person with whom I was dancing. If the person led with confidence I too would be confident. If that person was clumsy I too was clumsy. I danced with a sense of anticipation for something good to happen. I danced as though I knew in just a few moments I would soon catch on. The catching on seemed slow and seemed to be more or less like my Spanish skills. I have a lot of desire but not a lot of skill.

I stood near our table watching the men and women fill the floor with movement and grace and story. They were beautiful. Then, it happened. A very handsome spaniard came over to me and asked if I’d dance with him. He was strong and had a smile that went on for miles. He led me to the floor and I straightened my posture and warned him that I was very new to salsa and that I was going to need a lot of help. He went on to say with a smile, “It’s okay I will be your teacher.”

He then led the dance. It was an amazing experience. It was as though I’d been dancing all of my life. With each movement he led me with strength and confidence. He led me as though I was a part of him. He led as though I was actually an extension of his body. It amazed me. With his every move I somehow, without words, knew where to go and how to respond. It amazed me. I actually wondered if I had danced before because it was seemingly so easy for me.

Let’s back up. For years and years I have wanted to dance and I’d only dance with other girls and I’d always lead. There was an apparent lack of men in my dancing life. And so I picked up the slack. So being led was a new and scary concept for me. He might make me look like a fool. If I lead I could be in control. With the man leading it was vulnerable. I was vulnerable.

But here I was, with a man who was strong enough to hurt me, and gentle enough to hold me and confident enough to lead me and I followed, becoming the prize that I’d seen other women live into all night. I was now that woman. I was the prize. And this man I’d never met was now going to show off his prize.

With each step he gave instruction, he spoke encouragement and he asked questions. At one point he spun me and I went the wrong direction, which for those of you who know me, you know that isn’t too much of a surprise. But his response was astounding. He apologized to me. I made a mistake and he apologized! What was this?! He then said, “If I was doing my job well, you would always know exactly what to do. So, it is my fault that you went the wrong direction.” I was floored.

Everything he did gave me confidence to be and dance with freedom, knowing he would take me where he wanted me to go. For the next few songs he and I danced together and with each dance I became more and more confident. His leadership brought out my confidence and I was so encouraged by it.

I didn’t really think about how powerful the experience was until I was later reflecting on it with one of the girls in the house. In my life I have been the leader more often than not. I have had to know how to do things and how to come up with solutions and I take the brunt of any wrong decision. And here I was, in one dance, being invited to follow. Not because I’m not capable, but because I was the prize.

There I was, in an uncomfortable situation, totally secure, because I was being led, truly being led. In one dance I felt peace. I felt cherished. I felt seen. I felt valued. I felt known. I felt feminine. I felt beautiful. I felt free. I was taught, held and led and I was free, in every way. The dance will not be forgotten. Nor will the metaphor it held. I will go again. I will dance again. I will become a better dancer and by becoming a better dancer I will actually become a better follower.

And being a follower it turns out, is pretty free.

Rabbit trails and leap frogs

Tonight I’m pensive. I’m reflective and I’m watchful.

There is a slight breeze blowing, yet the air feels thick and still. The sea is rough and yet there is little sound. Sunday nights are quiet here.

I am tired today. My siestas seem to last longer and are much deeper than in my first days in Altea. Today I took two. And, I seemingly sat most of this day, rather than my usual running around up and down the hundreds of stairs going from one part of town to the other. Stopping allowed my body to feel its true self, and its true self is tired.

In a few days I will have been here for one month. This fact is seemingly hard to believe. I have a life here. I have friends. I have those I look forward to seeing and with whom I look forward to spending time. The characters who fill the shops, cafes, streets and restaurants have become a sort of community for me. I love these people. I long for them to know good and be blessed with every spiritual blessing. I long for them to know life and walk in it. I want that for the students too.

It is now mid-afternoon. Last night, my tiredness took over and I did not finish writing.

The day began by me waking 7 minutes before I was to arrive at the first event of the day. This was not a good plan. I woke up to a hot room. Already by early morning the heat was stilling the room and making it heavy. I quickly prepared myself for the day and made the hike down the stairs to the home where we’d spend the next couple hours as a group.

Our time was good, but I can tell that most are tired, feeling the pressure of meeting with friends they’ve met while here and they are wanting to squeeze as much into their time as possible. I feel this pressure for them. I think it’s strange for everyone to have invested so deeply in new friends that now they have to leave.

I’m thankful for the fact that I have another month to stay and invest and learn. It frees me of the pressure of leaving and needing to balance all of the good-byes.

My mind wonders as I write.

I think back over the stories I’ve encountered over the last few weeks and I’m so thankful!

Here’s a snapshot:

1. I swam in the deep dark blue of the Mediterranean Sea at midnight. It was so remarkably peaceful to float and star-gaze at the same time. I could hear the water and the sound of my breath and I felt peace and I knew freedom.

2. I was given the most beautiful dress by my house as a thank you present. And by beautiful I mean… totally and incredibly beautiful. I feel loved, valued and treasured. They have been a gift to me in so many ways.

3. I sat with one of the guys from the trip for four hours talking about Jesus and spiritual warfare and our identities and the Kingdom and it was good. We were given free mojitos too, that was also good.

4. Wednesday night the guys from Hot Home Pizza, which is my favorite place to eat in Altea, invited Ariana and I for mojitos after they got off work. So she and I showed up and the four of us sat around, swapping stories and life until we were all yawning and needed to head home.

1003005_10153019561965004_198410538_n5. We hosted an artist named Miriam, whose work is incredibly wonderful last week. She also was the artist for our gallery on Friday evening. Her art created connection through whimsy and thought. She had small surprises set up all over the gallery for people. I LOVED watching the children. They were so filled with wonder over each element and they drew their parents into the wonder. (Oh that we would remain childlike in our wonder of God and His world! He is the God of whimsy and surprises! and it is good.)

6. My days and nights have been filled with deep conversation with students and locals a like. I do not share their stories, but each person with whom I’ve been able to be in relationship, has shared both heart and story with me and it feels good and heavy and redemptive and beautiful and painful and glorious. I think that is how life is. It is a mix of throwing off the old and putting on the new. I’ve seen a lot of people put on new these past few weeks.

7. Yesterday our friends from Hot Home Pizza told us they’d like to make paella for us. So they came over for several hours. We ate and laughed and heard their story as a business and hear their story as people. I’ve come to treasure these men and women. They are friends and I’m so thankful for the time that we’ve all shared. In the next few weeks, we are going to make dinner for them, with a traditional American meal. I’m excited for this.

8. I’ve continued to learn the language, soaking in as much as possible. This next month I will have Spanish lessons, one on one with a man from town. I’ll speak with him in English for an hour and then he’ll speak with me in Spanish. I’m so excited about this!

9. I miss my friend Sara from Altearte, another cafe in town. I look forward to seeing her and spending some more time with her. It is an amazing reminder to me, the power of invitation. And how friends can be made so easily, when we make the effort.

10. Each day I awake wondering what the day will hold and what I’ll observe and how God will use it in my life. I don’t yet know how this season will play into my future or how God will encourage me through it, but I look forward to learning.

I feel a bit like this blog is filled with rabbit trails and leap frogs; jumping from story and thought to story and thought. But I do know a few things. God is in the details. He reveals himself through whimsy. He desires us to be conduits of relationship to everyone… everywhere. One does not have to leave their country to live a life that pours into others. That can happen right in our own neighborhoods, stores, cafes and streets. We simply must look for relationship and love with action. (I am sure there will be much more said about this topic.)

I’m off for lunch now. Tonight I move to the other house by the beach as Ariana heads back to the States. I will have to make reasons to climb the stairs daily, as it’s very good for me.

Look today for whimsy. Look today for God. Look today for ways to love. Then maybe, take the time to tell someone the story of how you encountered God and people!

Chasing Tails

DSC01055The days go by melding together forming a picture I can’t quite make out.

The same gentle breeze blows as I write. The same sea beckons me. The same peace falls over me. The same faces greet me each morning. The same faces of locals fill my time.

It is good.

I continue to eat differently. I continue to move more. I continue to wonder about my life here and why I’m here for these two months and how this will all play a part in my life’s story in the future. I continue to wonder what metaphor I’m living in, that I’ll need to draw upon for later teaching, growing and living. I continue to wonder what life will look like when I return.

I’m not anxious here.

At home, I can struggle with anxiety. Is my life making a difference? When will I have a home I can call my own? Will I every marry? Will I have children? Will I finally get that book written? Why hasn’t this or that happened? Why do I struggle with envy? The questions go on and on and I, like a dog chasing it’s tail, chase after these questions and answers in a non-stop continuous motion.

My days are not filled with questions in Spain. My days are filled with enjoying the present. Living in this moment. Soaking in the new and walking in it. There is a slow pace to life in Altea. I know that if I were in Barcelona or Madrid my experience would be somewhat different, but here in Altea, things are slow. People enjoy each other. People live simply, running a small business or having an artisan booth for a few months a year satisfies.  Some of this simplicity, is because jobs are scarce. And I think, some of the simplicity comes from a different set of cultural values. (This makes me think I should ask some of my friends who are locals, what their culture values, instead of me assuming from three weeks of observations.)

From what I’ve observed and from a few facts I’ve come to know, people here love being with friends and they love eating. Over a 1/3 of one’s budget goes towards eating out. American’s spend that much on housing. Here, having a large space is not important as people rarely invite others over.  But, you will find people in cafe’s and bars and restaurants at every hour (with exception of siesta). I actually think I fit this way of living. It is not a shock to my system to sit and listen to other’s stories and share in life with others relationally for hours at a time.

But, at home, there is a running dialogue about how that isn’t enough. There is seemingly, always more to be done and one is evaluated not by who they are as a person, but by what they accomplish. This is dangerous!

I think of people I know who do not know how to linger in conversation. People who feel unproductive if they didn’t accomplish a huge list of to dos. People who rarely act as though they know peace, because they can not stop chasing their metaphorical tails.

I haven’t chased tails here.

When I’ve been tempted to worry about things when I return, I stop myself, confess my worry, confess my temporary belief that God will not have good for me and then dive back into the practice of being present with people and being present with self.

The students are all on a hike today. I chose to stay back because I needed a few hours alone. It’s been good for me. They’ll come back with tales of jumping off of rocks into the sea, the time they each spent with the Lord along the way, the conversations they had, and I’ll happily greet them like a mother welcoming her children home from day camp.

Tonight we are hosting a beach fiesta and night swim. There will be food and blankets and the beach and the sea! What more can one want? It will be good to be with the students and to enjoy being with those we’ve met along the way.

What tail are you chasing? How does it keep you from being present?

 

 

Morning, stairs and sleeveless dresses

1000395_10152988074930004_898015445_nMorning breaks yet again. Mornings are bright and quiet and still. I feel grawgy in the morning. The brightness often collides with my face and instead of joy like a Disney character waking up to the sunshine, I grimace and turn away from it. “Stupid sunshine!” I say aloud, as if the morning were an older sibling awakening me early on a Saturday.

Morning.

The days here often greet me as if I were a child on his birthday or a woman as she prepares for her first date. Anticipation comes with my mornings in Altea.

This morning, to my surprise, I woke up with the sunlight. I half-way greeted the new day as though I were cinderella awakening to a room full of rodents and birds happily preparing my outfit. I was glad to wake up. I had fallen asleep at the second of our two homes here in Altea.  So, I woke up to the sound of the sea and the sweet voices of girls bustling preparing for their days.

I was glad to wake up. I was glad to wake up because I knew I’d get to spend another day living into a new freedom, in a new place, filled with my once unfamiliar, but now familiar home.

Wake up!

Words which once conjured feelings of anxiety, now greet me with anticipation.

Freedom is a new rhythm for me and with it come feelings of discomfort. I feel as though I’ve moved into a new house and though it’s a beautiful house, it is new.  Much like the big reveal on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, when the big bus pulls away and a whole new world is revealed, I look at my self, my understanding of self, my beliefs and ideas of identity with awe. And, at the very same time, there are also feelings of discomfort. Everything is new. Everything feels as if it could break or be taken. Everything feels like a dream. Everything feels like an invitation to trust that yes, this is from God and yes, this is good. Freedom is a new house. Freedom is my new house.

On this morning I knew freedom deep within me. I walked in it. It steadied me. It held my head high. It propelled me forward.

I walked the hundreds of stairs to my house, still wearing my yellow dress from the night before. The steps came easily to me. I walked tall. I walked free. I once again felt like a character on a movie set, as my dress flowed and my newly purchased basket purse accented my outfit with perfect Spanish style. I once wore freedom as an accessory, I now find myself living as though freedom were my backbone.  It causes me to stand tall. To dance. To laugh loudly. To wear shirts with no sleeves. To greet strangers in a language I barely know. To eat new foods. To try a new language. To jump into new without fear.

This is not the case every day. Some days the newness of my freedom overwhelms me and I want to run back to the old. I want to put on that old t-shirt, only to realize I’d thrown it away the week before. But, the old no longer feels permissible or completely desirable. New is not always comfortable.

Altea, a small Spanish town, resting on the shores of the Mediterranean, has been the land on which my new home has been revealed.  It’s been the place where I’ve been invited and challenged to live in this new way. It’s been filled to this point with joy and invitations to deeply trust in the one who gave me my new home. The one who has given me my freedom.

The sun invites me every morning to live in the new and today…. I chose to walk in it.