Day 5 of truth telling: I’m in love

heart_of_sand-1824My truth today: I decided to write today’s post with few and simple words, to express even in form, a truth I’ve known since I was only able to express things in simple words.

My truth: I love Jesus.

That isn’t a simple phrase nor is it a nice sentiment. It is the deepest truth I know. I love him. I fell in love with Jesus when I was four years old and have never stopped.

My life has been molded and shaped by this reality in ways that I have no words to describe. When I was four all I understood was that he loved me and I loved him back. Since that time, my understanding of his love for me has deepened. It has been challenged. It has been questioned. And it shapes everything that I do, think and believe. His love for me, is the basis on which I am able to love him.

I love him, because he first loved me. He gave his life for me. He proved his love over and over and over again. He continues to prove his love for me. It is life altering. It has changed me.

With every ounce of my being, that I see and know, I love Jesus.

This love continues to grow as I grow and deepen and develop.

This love is powerful. It is whimsical. It is overwhelming, heartbreaking, breathtaking and renewing all at the same time.

I love Jesus so much that I want every person I meet, everywhere, to love him too.

I love Jesus.

I do.

My life is shaped by this fact, more so than any other and it has led me on journeys that often surprise me. Today, I’m thankful that this is my truth. May it be yours as well.

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I love Valentine’s Day: A confession from a 39 year old single woman

Pink-HeartI woke up today to a text from a friend wishing me a Happy Valentine’s Day! I am single, 39, have dated very little, have only had a significant relationship on Valentine’s day once, not of course including the many Valentine’s of my early childhood… (you know who you are). I have a desire to be married, at times I struggle with feelings of loneliness and have waves of feeling invisible. I would love to have someone give me flowers, write me poems (okay maybe not write me poems… but maybe), dress up like adult babies and shoot me with arrows in the shape of hearts; but these are not currently a part of my story. At times I grieve their absence, but I do not grieve them today. For this day, Valentine’s Day, is not a day of receiving, it is a day of giving.

Love is a tricky topic. It is our deepest longing. And, I’d be lying if I told you I feel strong in my singleness every day. Many days I am content with life as is, some days are filled with such extreme loneliness that I can hardly see the good, some days I celebrate the fact that I’m single and then there are days I want to post on some social media outlet, “Hey you all, want to set me up?!” And then, thankfully, I choose to back myself down off that train. 

Valentine’s Day for many, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving or even the Fourth of July can harken such feelings of unmet desire it can be very difficult to get through the day without at least one emotional breakdown. Many shut down on these days all together because of their own pain, longings and struggles. The day being celebrated may be a day to remember someone who played a roll in your life, to celebrate an event, to remember the people around you, to look out… these are all good things. Holidays and celebrations are outward facing events, which often surface inward lack, struggle or desire. But when we, when I, focus only on the inward pain, I miss the point all together. 

Like so many things we make important days about us. I catch myself doing it often. I’ll be at an event where I’m to celebrate someone and their life step and all I can see is my own lack or how I’ve not met the mark or not made it quite as far as I would have liked and I pity myself. When I do so, I forget a key element of relationship found in Romans 8. Paul when writing about love and relationship, begins with a command: rejoice with those who rejoice. He then moves on to mourn with those who mourn. Both commands are externally focused commands. They are commands of empathy, choosing to enter into someone’s story, pain, joy, struggle and excitement with them, feeling it with them, not because it’s your pain too or even your happiness, but because you love that person. 

When I pity myself on Valentine’s day, Christmas, Mother’s day, or when I’m at a wedding, baby shower or perhaps at an event where someone is being celebrated publicly for something for which I want to be recognized, I am missing the point and I am not loving. Self pity is a form of victimhood and I am unwilling to be a participant. This may sound harsh and in no way am I discounting the fact that there is pain involved in deep longings that are unmet, but when I focus on self alone I am not loving. 

I love Valentine’s Day, not because I have a Valentine. I do not love Valentine’s Day because I have a lot of loving people in my life, though I do. I do not love Valentine’s Day because of what I get out of it. I love Valentine’s Day because it is a love free for all. I get to speak words of good and kindness to others and be as cheesy as I’d like. I love Valentine’s Day because I love watching other’s rejoicing. I love Valentine’s Day because I love watching men and women scurry for a last minute something or other to pick up to give a token of love, kindness or remembrance. I love Valentine’s Day because it’s premise is love, yes it’s twisted, slightly over dramatic and materialistic, but in its purist form, this day is about looking out and giving of yourself for the good of others. 

Would I one day like to have a Valentine for which I can buy ugly red socks,  make a homemade card or send a singing telegram? Most certainly, but on this day, I choose to lay aside my want, my lack, my unmet desire to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn and love with lavish unhindered words and actions every person I think of and run into. Will you join me? Will you step back, take a look at your expectations for this day and then choose to love outwardly? There is no guaranty, but, if you choose to love well every person you come in contact with today, you might be surprised by days end just how loved you feel. 

 

 

Racism, Anger, Heartache, Peacemaking and Boy Meets World

UnknownToday I was doing a little good-bye baking as I prepare to leave Altea. I found a TV show on Youtube to watch to pass the time. The show, “Boy Meets World” Season 1 Episode 8. This show aired in 1993. I know, I do have great taste in TV. But as I watched I found myself actually brought in by it’s content. The show was about prejudice and racism and by the end of the show I was teary and angry. I actually yelled, “I’m so sick of this!” Tears actually are still making their way down my cheeks and anger still flares within me.

This show was filmed in 1993, I scrolled through TV shows aired in 1983 and as shows filled my screen I looked at titles such as “The Jeffersons,” “Ma Ma’s Family,” and “MASH” I knew that in these shows episodes aired dealing with the same topic. So I searched again. I looked at shows from 1973, “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Sons” caught my attention, knowing they too held episodes with similar messages. As I searched back I quickly realized I was going the wrong direction, I should be looking years ahead. So I looked at 2003, no good, I too found shows that I knew held episodes with the same message. And let’s be honest it is 2013 and there is much about racism bombarding the news and our TVs and I’m sick and tired of it! I have been alive a short 38 almost 39 years and every year of my life there has been TV produced dealing with the issues of prejudice and racism and today, I found my self angry at the thought!

So angry I yelled at the computer and I cried. Because “Boy Meets World” was so well written and moving? No. Because there was a show dealing with racism. Not exactly.

I was angry, I am angry, that there was a show filmed 20 years ago dealing with racism and we still have to have shows dealing with the same topic today. Not because I’d like to sweep the issue under the rug, but because it is an issue at all.

Today I read about Syria and the tragic tensions and death tolls rising in the past days. I read about countries threatening other countries if they sought to do anything about Syria. There are incredible tensions between Israel and Palestine that seems endless and so complex that hope for resolve often seems slim. I read posts every day on Facebook dealing with felt discrimination. Every day.

This past summer the US was divided as a young boy was killed and the police officer who shot him was set free. Anger, blame, name calling and assumptions on every side were enflamed as people chose sides and stood their ground.  There is more tension in the world today than at any other time I can remember (and I lived through the Cold War).

Haven’t we had enough! Hasn’t there been enough.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if in 2023 not one show would have to be produced about racism, because racism no longer existed?

Yes, this may be a bit idealistic, but I am an idealist in matters of love and dignity.

[My heart is still pounding]

Love and dignity. I think we all could use a little more of these in our lives. I sure know the world needs them.

Imagine a world where we see each other as human and treat every person, every where as such, no matter economic class, color, religion or belief. (And God made man in his own image. Male and Female he created them. Genesis 1:27)

Imagine a world where those who acted differently, believed differently, lived differently were met with the same kindness and respect as those who held the same view point. (Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  (Matthew 5:44)

Imagine a world where people didn’t look out for their own interests, but they looked out for the interest of others. And, even putting others interests above one’s own.  (Philippians 2:4)

Imagine a world where every person had equal standing. (Galatians 3:28)

Imagine a world where people didn’t simply think about the good they were to do, but they actually did it! (James 4:17)

Imagine a world where love was the driving force behind every good deed. (1 Corinthians 13)

Imagine a world where people chose forgiveness instead of blame and bitterness. (Ephesians 4:32)

Imagine a world where peace was something that was pursued at all times. (Romans 12:17-19)

Imagine a world where people sought to bless others instead of curse them. (Romans 12:14)

Imagine a world where people rejoiced with those who were rejoicing, instead of grow jealous for their good fortune. (Romans 12:15)

Imagine a world where if one is mourning, others mourn with them. (Romans 12:15)

Imagine a world where each person welcomed others into their homes and lived to be a person of invitation and welcome. (Romans 12:12)

Imagine a world where that which is pure and noble and right were at the forefront of all of our minds and were the words of our mouths. (Philippians 4:8)

Imagine a world where nothing was ever done out of selfish ambition. (Philippians 2:3)

Imagine a world where people clung to what was good. (Romans 12:9)

Imagine a world where people put these words into practice and were not simply hearers of them. (James 1:22)

Imagine a world where people did not judge each other, but instead held themselves accountable to good. (Matthew 7: 1-5)

Imagine

Imagine

Imagine a world where instead of criminalizing a 20 year old who is figuring herself out, and has a public stage to do it, people came alongside of her, loved her, was kind to her and received her just as she is.

Imagine a world where instead of criminalizing governments for not caring for the poor as they should, people, you and I started caring for the poor.

Imagine a world where instead of blame and entitlements, people sought to live good lives, caring and loving others well, without strings attached.

Imagine a world where pictures of heros like Antoinette Tuff or Malala Yousafzai were on the covers of magazines rather than those who bomb and kill.

Imagine a world where we saw one another as human, made up of organs, made up of cells, held together by ligaments, woven together with a soul and created in the image of a good God.

Imagine a world where racism wasn’t an issue written into TV shows, because racism didn’t exist!

Yes, I can imagine it.

But I will not stop there. For imagining alone will get me nowhere. I intend to, as far be it up to me, to live in such a manner. To live a life worthy of the good news I believe. To live a life that follows in the way of Jesus.

Today, go, love, give dignity, respect and trust away as though you knew your actions were a large part of the solution. (Because they are) And maybe, if all of us, every last one of us, did so, in ten years there might not have to TV about racism any more.

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.

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?

 

 

A day of rest

968839_10152975071055004_1090486230_nI woke up to the shine beating in the window. It was hot and the morning had just begun. I made my way down the terra-cotta stairs to four students curled up, still in dream land. They are tired. They have explored and soaked in so much culture and experience that though they want to be awake for hours can not help but fall asleep the instant their heads hit their pillows and slumber until they are forced to wake up by an outside source. Soon noises filled the downstairs. Their voices went from  being slurred and half awake to loud and boisterous as they laughed about the previous days events. We laugh a lot in our house. (They have not yet fallen in love with my jokes, but I’m working on it!)

One by one they left to go experience Spanish church culture for the first time. All of the students were divided into three groups, each going to a different church. Three of the students from my house had to take a train nearly an hour away to go to their church. As each group left the house became quiet and I got some much needed fully alone time. I breathed in deep, taking a look around my room and once again being struck by my view. The water never ceases to amaze me. It is as though the sea were made to be a patchwork quilt with all shades of blue. There are patches of blue, turquoise, aqua-marine, sky blue and a deep sea blue. They move in a continuous and rhythmic motion as though they look up to a sovereign conductor, who directs the sea as though it were a choir singing in 8 part harmony all in the rhyme. I love it. I’m moved by it. My soul sings to it.

I decided to do laundry, a simple task that at home is one of my least favorite things to do. But here, for some reason, the simplicity of the laundry is one of my favorite things. I love the smell of the fabric softener as I hang each item on the line. I smiled once again as if I were a character in a play. I then made a breakfast of caramelized onions and eggs and savored the flavor as I enjoyed the silence of my home.

I could not wait to spend some time with Jesus. Though I’m here on a trip to walk with college students in their own spiritual formation, I have felt a strange distance between me and Jesus. It feels like the kind of distance one experiences when they live in a different place from their best friend. Though they know their friend is there and close and the relationship is in tact and secure, there is just a missing from being separate from their loved one.

I needed to be with Him.

I took time to write, to listen, to pray, to cry. My heart is much like the sea, a patchwork of colors of experiences, thoughts, new ideas, old habits, memories, hopes, dreams and questions. And they all flow in motion as they look to their conductor. But let me tell you, if even just one of the patches doesn’t submit to the direction of the great conductor, the rhythm is off for each part. Today, I wanted to once again submit to the direction of my conductor. One by one I laid my thoughts, experiences, memories and the like to His care and peace swept over me.

The peace was rich and good and it rocked me to sleep. I woke up to the sound of people coming home from their church excursions. We talked a bit, did our separate work and eventually the last group came home. The three of them; Claire, Brianne and Donald came upstairs and we chatted about our days and made a plan to go to the sea shore.

We walked down the street to the shore and laughed and listened and played. Once on the shore, we made a plan to swim out to the rock bar which rests a little over 100 yards away. We laid down our towels on the rocks. (Yes, rocks, not sand. The beaches in Altea have rock that is much like river rock covering their banks. Not the most comfortable, but for today it did its job.) I laid and cared for our belongings as they swam out to the bar and back, then I made the swim myself. It was good to be in the water.

Once I got to the bar, I stood on a rock and listened. I felt as though I were connecting with the mystery of God as I looked down at the water. The sea is vast and full and beyond understanding. It is powerful and full of life. As I breathed in the air and the smells of the sea I breathed in the life of Jesus. He too is vast and full and beyond understanding. He too is powerful and full of life.

I felt alive.

I swam back to shore. It was a more difficult swim than the swim out. The tide kept pulling me back and I kept pressing forward against its pull. Soon on the shore I laid covered by the sun, until shadows washed over us.

We headed back up the hundreds of stairs to our home. Donald had discovered a new way that he wanted to take us. It was beautiful. Maybe it was beautiful because of the geraniums. Maybe it was beautiful because it was different. Maybe, it was beautiful because I was with these two students whose hearts amaze me.

We stepped in our home and each have rested from a long walk and long swim.

I once again sit in my room, looking out at the sea, which is now a very light grey blue color, and am calm. I know my Jesus is with me. There is still much to say and hear from Him, but I am thankful for a day to be. A day to be with my Jesus and to be with these students who remind me of him.

(Tonight I’m going dancing!)

A birthday party

1aabaa29bb8a1287b3b06ffaf0fad544It was Friday night. We had been in Alicante all day, come home, taken a siesta (for which I’m so thankful!) and now we’re sassying ourselves up for the big party. Ariana and Xara had met Gloria in their first week living in Spain over 10 years ago. She is a bold, vivacious woman. I had only been told stories, but tonight I was going to meet her.

On our way to the party we were to meet another woman, Pillar. We arrived late to meet her and before an introduction could be made, this very well dressed Spanish woman scolded Ariana for being late. Though I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her lips were moving quickly and her fingers were pointing to her watch and her tone held such a pitch it sounded as though she were a chicken about to hatch an egg. She was not happy with our tardiness. We rushed off to a local shop and purchased a gift for Gloria.

(It is the custom in Spain for the birthday girl/boy to throw the party, buy the meal, pay for the drinks and all. Much different than the states where when it’s your birthday you are treated to everything! All day. So it is customary to bring a gift to say I’m glad you were born and I’m grateful for your generosity. There is so much to learn simply from observing and asking questions. I wonder if I miss out on things in the states because I forget to ask questions to understand.)

I followed the three women as they rushed into the store. They held clothes up and discussed their feelings on what was chosen. They discussed size and color. They went back and forth with studious looks as they observed the clothing wanting to choose just the right thing. At one point I felt I was at an art gallery more than a clothing shop as each woman stepped back, put their hand on their chin, squinted and commented on the apparel  before them. It was delightful. Pillar and I had yet to be introduced and just as though she saw me for the first time, she looks over at Ariana and scolds her for not introducing me before. She made sure Ariana knew how rude it was that I’d been here all along and she didn’t yet know my name. I enjoy Pillar and her sass. She reminds me of no one I know and she is full of spice and vivaciousness.

Pillar and I were quickly introduced and I once again used my three year old Spanish. I told her it was nice to meet her and that I understood very little Spanish. She smiled and I smiled and all was good.

We were off! We walked quickly down the paseo, much like women on a mission. We headed directly for our restaurant and barely stopped to say hi to friends we passed along the way.

I must say I was a bit nervous. My brain was already tired from the long day of integration in Alicante and now I was off to another event. The party was full of people and one or two spoke some English, but I was really on my own. This I knew from the get go. We showed up, I kissed each person from the left cheek to the right cheek, as is the custom, I said my greeting and then I stood a bit awkwardly. It was as though I was in the 7th grade and was invited to a party where I knew no one. Everyone around was talking and laughing and carrying on. At one point I almost burst into tears, but instead I took that fiest and turned it into gumption and joined in. I was determined to make a friend, hear a story, get to know someone or at least look like I was. I wanted to communicate gratitude to Gloria for including me and I wanted to communicate that I valued these people and their culture.

I watched for a bit, making a strategy of who I’d talk to and also simply just soaking in the scene. So much was similar to a gathering in the US, but so much was different. There were children at the birthday party. Two of them, a 10 year old and a 3 year old ran around playing, sitting at the bar and talking with others at the restaurant. No one was bothered and the bar tender seemed to like them at his counter. There was a baby in his stroller off in a corner asleep, every once in a while someone would glance in that direction, but for the most part, he seemed to be content, as did his parents. The men stood together. There is power in numbers in this group. And there were only 2 men at the party. The guests were varied. I could tell people loved Gloria. She had friends from Norway, Holland, Portugal, the US and Spain. She had friends who were old and some who were quite young. She was indiscriminate about who was invited to her table as people came from various places and stages in life. I grew fond of Gloria, though we talked little. Her inner kindness was seen as was her loneliness. She loved well and was quite loved.

I watched just a bit more, when I saw a woman free who I knew spoke some English. (In the above picture)

She was from Holland, and was firey and very salty. She had beautiful features, hair white as snow and dressed with color and flare. She stood out from the moment she arrived. Her red lips and blue eyes told a thousand stories before she ever spoke. We talked about the failing economy and how Europeans are fearful that one person will step up in the midst of this crisis as one person did the last time Europe was in financial ruin. That person was Adolf Hitler. There was fear in her. There was resignation in her. There was kindness in her.

After she and I had concurred the world I sat down next to Xara. She and I spoke for a bit when a young boy with a blue shirt, crew cut, olive skin and probably stood just about to my chest came over to me.  He said with bold assurance, “Hello. Nice to meet you!” I complimented him on his English and I asked if he would teach me a few words in Spanish. For the next hour he and I laughed as he was my teacher and I was his student. He taught me the difference between pelo (hair), pedo (to fart), pero (dog) and perro (but). We’d act out or make noises where appropriate. The entire party was observing my lesson and I’m fairly certain they enjoyed every moment. I know that I did.

Pillar grew tired and in an instant she wanted to leave. She grabbed me by the arm and we headed off without Ariana. We got just beyond the restaurant when she yelled to Ariana. I don’t know what it was, but I’m fairly certain it went a little like, “Ariana! Are you coming or not? We will leave you! Stop your dancing and get over here!” I late found out Ariana had been asked to teach the women a certain dance move as she was leaving. This was fun to observe and Pelar yelled and made comments under her breath. I smiled happily as I soaked in all the goodness.

The three of us walked home together laughing and talking. I carried on as though I’d known Pillar for quite some time and as though I knew everything being said. About half way home Pillar told me we would get together on a Saturday in two weeks. I was going to learn Spanish from her. (Yes! One more teacher and Yes! more time with Pillar. She is so curious to me.)

We dropped Pillar off at her home and Ariana talked and laughed our way to Casa Teraza. I went straight to my room and felt complete contentment. It was an exhausting but rich and full and good day. I was so thankful.

It seems I’m constantly invited into situations that remind me to step out, be bold, step in and learn and listen and be comfortable with discomfort. This I know I will take home with me. In this I know I must learn what Jesus has for me. How will I be a better friend? How will I better love those around me? How will I own my own differences and be comfortable being amongst those different from me? I hope I will one day have a birthday party like Gloria’s. One that is filled with difference, generosity, generations and lots of laughter.

Until next time.

Adios.