26 to 26: My Weekend

I know that I made a promise.

I know that I said that I would finish this.

I intend to.

It’s just, this past weekend was a little crazy and a whole lot of wonderful.

In the spring, I was invited to help out with administration for the Simply Worship Conference—a conference for worship and tech teams from New England churches. This was their third year running the event but this was a year that they were really looking to grow.

What was last year a conference of 150, this year grew to be a conference of 400.

I spent Friday walking the halls of a massive church and stuffing goody bags and assembling name tags and poking fun at my new friend, Tommy.

Saturday started at 4:30 am and ended at 11:30 pm.  The time in between was stuffed full of driving and coffee and coordinating volunteers and coffee and answering questions and checking in registrants and schmoozing with presenters and vendors and making more coffee and finally, a concert.

And then stacking chairs and cleaning up and stealing snooty Perrier from the Green Room and  a long drive home followed by lots of the sleeps.

Honestly, it was a little crazy seeing so many ministries and churches from New England represented in one place at one time. It was a humbling reminder that God is still very much alive, very much active, and very much busy here in the Northeast. It was inspiring to hear stories from tiny churches to I-didn’t-think-churches-in-New-England-got-so-big churches about how God is moving in their communities and congregations.

And to have this one day, this one time to educate and encourage and serve people who spend so much time serving their congregations from the stage (or the sound booth). It felt like such a blessing to be a blessing to others.

Not to mention the volunteers. Oh! The volunteers. It’s always wonderful to meet wonderful people. Like, really truly fun, beautiful, lovely, genuine people. I made a few new friends.

I realize that this puts me three days behind both in sleep and blog posts. So, here are three tid-bits I picked up this weekend:

  1. Working at camp equips you to do just about everything/anything. Stacking chairs? I don’t bat an eye. Coordinating volunteers? Yes, thank you. Fielding 400 questions? I’ll pretend that I know the answers. Remaining calm in crisis? Bring on the crazies. As weird and taxing and undefined working at camp can sometimes feel, it sure prepares you for just about anything.
  2. Parents are awesome. My parents took care of my dog most of Friday and all day Saturday. This began when I left at 5 am and Olive decided to bark for an hour. My mom finally managed to snuggle her back to sleep. Thanks, mom.
  3. Wear sensible shoes. Hah. This is a lesson that I will probably never really learn. It’s kind of my thing, to never be wearing appropriate footwear. 

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26 to 26: God is in the tremors

Ann Voskamp has been speaking Truth into my life, through her book One Thousand Gifts, for the last three years. I’ve read it and reread it and reread it again. Each time I work through it, whether with my small group or on my own, I am struck by different parts of the text, different principles.

This felt close last I read. I need this Truth in my heart and my flesh and my bones.

‘When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand util I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back’ — (Exodus 33:22-23)

“Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest round, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will Though it is black and w can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look. Then we will look back and see His back.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 156

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26 to 26: Words

Sometimes words feel like a burden that I have to carry, backpack full of nouns and verbs. They feel heavy and daunting, like obligation.

Sometimes words feel forced and contrived. Sometimes words are familiar like a friend, close like a brother, intimate like a lover.

Sometimes putting words on pages feels like the only thing, the only way.

Sometimes words ink easy onto paper, playful words beautifully posed. Sometimes words bleed through bandages of old wounds covered, forgotten. Sometimes words spell Ugly.

Sometimes words bring relief; sometimes fear. Sometimes words put flesh to mystery.

Sometimes words bring to light the Truth and cast out the lies.

Sometimes I wrap them around myself, like a warm blanket, when I feel chilled and my heart rubs raw.

Sometimes words feel like a curse; sometimes like blessing.

Sometimes I’m tempted to leave them be, abandon my brain-box of jumbled up letters. Sometimes I want to stick them on the side of the road labeled only Free.

But sometimes I realize that words aren’t easily separated from my sense of self.

I am words and full of words itching to get out, little syllables of me, gathered together, forming new things—sounds with meanings and reasons and stories to tell.

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26 to 26: Sixteen things I loved at sixteen.

Today marks a measly 16 days until my 26th birthday.

Sixteen was such a great time. Life was fun and exciting. I was just getting my license, illegally driving my best friends around. I was dating my first (and only…COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH) boyfriend for a whopping three months. I was buying clothes from the Salvation Army, wearing aviators before they were cool again, and finally growing into my personality. I was also sweating a lot…that’s definitely an over-share but it’s definitely the truth.

I loved being sixteen and still feel so fondly about the things remind me of that time. This post is an ode to you, sixteenth year of my life, and all the things that made you so great.

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Chuck Taylors.

Mine were pink but mostly gray from extreme over-use.

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Taking Back Sunday.

Their album, Tell All Your Friends, pretty much was the anthem of my sixteenth year. Yeah, I’m that cool.

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The only thing better than TBS was their lead singer, Adam Lazarra. 

Adam, I have always and will always love you.

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The Format.

Before Nate was in Fun, he was in The Format. I liked him before he was cool. #hipster

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Cowboy Coffee at the Lady Killigrew Cafe.

A perfect post-youth group pickmeupandmakemestayuplate beverage.

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BYOT (Bring Your Own Tube)

This is something that you didn’t even know existed. This was a camp reunion before camp reunions were cool…and before any of us had our licenses. Basically, this was just a big ole’ slumber party.

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Bradley Hathaway.

I discovered Bradley’s poetry at that time I began to uncover my love for words. He’s still doing his thing but now he’s telling stories through music.and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

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The Ghetto Max.

My 1992 Nissan Maxima (which looked nothing like this). Leather seats. Sunroof. A/C. The numbers outside the doors unlocking thing.

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Aviators.

Before everyone was wearing them, I bought some at a gas station. My affinity for big sunglasses persists to this day.

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Little Kid’s Jewlery.

If it was plastic and cheesy, I probably owned it. Bonus points if I found it somewhere.

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Livejournal.

Before blogging was really a thing, I had a Livejournal. The things that I posted are just down right embarassing. And hilarious.

(Mine is still active and the last post alludes to Ashley Parker Angel…from O-Town…yeah, just Google it.)

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My Extreme Teen Bible.

Did I read it a lot? Nope. Was it filled with trinkets from camp? Yup. Did the paperback binding tear away completely almost immediately? You know it. But it was my first REAL Bible and I had purchased it with my own money.

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Thrift Store T-Shirts.

Nothing screams I’m so alternative like a good, pre-loved t-shirt.

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Emo Hair.

I’m pretty sure that I had at least three variations of this haircut.

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My nose ring.

My dad made me sign an agreement that this would be my final body modification. HAHAHAHAHHA. THAT’S NOT BINDING THERE WAS NO LAWYER PRESENT!

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Old Graveyards.

Don’t ask me why. I didn’t actually like them. They scared the crap out of me but the person who drove us all around loved them. I spent more time in them that I would have liked.

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Pine Brook Camp & Cabin Six.

Summers were always (and still are) meant for camp. Dang, look at those highlights.

Thanks, Sixteen. Now I feel even more self-concious.

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26 to 26: There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously goodlooking.

I believe that it was the great philosopher, Derek Zoolander, who once said:

“There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking…and I plan to find out what that is.”

So much wisdom, so much truth.

If we’re honest, this is a lie that we whisper to ourselves in front of mirrors and our peers.

Life would be better if __________________.

We fill it in with dreams of higher cheekbones, thinner waists, fatter paychecks, broader influence. We fill it in with things far off and fleeting.

We stuff these Photoshopped ideals chock full of promises of easier, better, fuller living.

But the storms still come when you’re beautiful. Relationships still strain when you’re thin. Loss still hits when you’re rich. Failure still comes when you’re famous.

And just because they have rock hard abs and stunning features, doesn’t mean that they [male models] can’t not too die in a freak gasoline fight accident.

We can spend our lives chasing after thoughts of how we should look, how our lives should look. We can and often times do. But I wager that it is those who are concerned little with physical beauty or worldly wealth or hoarding power who are indeed the most beautiful, affluent, and influential.

I wager that those living life-fullest are fleeing from better and clinging to now.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33

 

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26 to 26: Finish the things you start

Finish the things that you start.

It’s the things that you finish, not the things that you begin, that will define you, shape you, strengthen you.

The beautiful, lasting things are the laborious ones.

Don’t give up.

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26 to 26: Family is a funny thing.

Das my dad.

Das my dad.

Family is a funny thing.

Me:   “Hey mom. Did you know that this yogurt has agave in it?”

My dad:  “AGAVIA!” sung to the tune of the Activia yogurt commercials

My family is a funny thing because they’re funny.

The older I get, even just by the day, the more I appreciate each of them.

Jamie’s dry humor.

Dad’s tight hugs.

Mom’s constant nurturing.

I spend Sunday’s, after church, with my family. I pick Olive up from my house and bring her to “grammy and grampy’s” to play with Shilah, their persistently naughty lab.

I bake apple crisp for my dad and use baby-talk to make attempts at communicating with my 23 year-old brother. I do laundry and watch movies and lounge in front of their pellet stoves.

I soak up all of the love and the home that is in that house.

Since I’ve moved out and as I live life on my own, I’m learning more and more how deeply the roots and bonds of family run. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The work of family is messy. There are shouts and tears and bruised egos. Yet as messy as it gets, it always ends up all that more lovely. And there are hugs and kisses and laughs and bound-up hearts.

Family is a funny, funny thing, but it may be the most important thing.

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