Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So much has happened in the past month and a half.

So much has happened in the past month and a half, and I will get to all of it eventually, but right now I am thinking about one thing.

Today we are in the library at the local college. Andy is working on a resume and I am just searching around the internet. In my searching, I came across a link to a New York Times article about a photographer who spent time in Pine Ridge. His story and perspective and opinions is by no means the beginning and end of the situation in Pine Ridge, but the photographs he took stopped me in my tracks. There were some pictures of children from a community on the reservation in which I spent a lot of time. I could see enough of each child in the photos to be sure that they looked familiar, but not enough to be sure that they were the specific kids I thought they might be. The pictures transported me so vividly to the place where I have spent the past year that for a moment it seemed so close. But it is so far way, and my heart aches.

For the time being, Andy and I are living in Chattanooga. We are trying desperatly not to alienate ourselves from community. We have intentionally planted ourselves in a diverse neighborhood in hopes of getting to know our neighbors. We are searching for a church where we can volunteer and get to know people on a deeper than surface level. We are searching for jobs that will get us more involved in this community we have found ourselves in. I have a feeling, though, that it will be harder for both of us this time around. I think it will be hard because both of us have, in a way, done this before. We have left home, gone to the places we each felt God calling us to, devoted and attached ourselves to these places, learned more than we could have imagined, and then left. We have left feeling a little disillusioned, a little guilty, and with the faces of those we loved there burned into our memories. After that, I think it seems a little daunting to dust ourselves off and go at it again. Not to mention that we have been living in wedding world for the past three months and it still doesn't feel like we have quite assimilated ourselves back into a world that is about more than us and our relationship.

Nonetheless, I am going to try to finish college (sigh), and attempt to trust that God has a plan within all of this, that He will continue to convict us to follow the same passions and callings He gave to us in the beginning, even when it is less than easy, even when it is really really hard. I can only pray that if He really does want us in Pine Ridge, that my heart will continue to ache for the place, and the family He has given me there, as it does now.

The photos and article I came across were at:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Life is moving so quickly now.

Life is moving so quickly now. I feel like I barely have time to let it sink in. Decisions are coming at Andy and I so fast we don't even have the time to make them. We are getting to this really scary part of life where we have no choice but to jump into the mess, knowing we don't know how it will turn out, knowing it will probably hurt a little. For quite a few months now I have been feeling a little further from God, a little less passionate. But with all that has been going on and all these undeserved blessings coming my way, how can I complain?

We went to visit Andy's extended family in Wisconsin last weekend and I fell and hit my head pretty badly. I think it might have slowed me down a little, maybe. Well, at least my body. It slowed down my body a little, but my mind is still spinning like the entire world's problems rest on my shoulders. And somedays that is how I feel. Well, maybe not the world's problems, but at least my entire family's.

There isn't much I can do now, but to close my eyes, hope for the best, and let life's current take me where it may. I'm not trying to say that our decisions aren't important. It's just that we've done all the planning we can do, and we are getting married in two weeks. And then, somehow, we are taking a vacation in the middle of all this craziness. And then we are moving to a new place and kind of having real adult lives!

It is so odd. The crazier things get, with housing and jobs and family and wedding planning, the more I am forced, despite my desires, to slow..... down. So I think it is good that I am coming to the end of myself, that I am reaching that inevitable point when I realize that I AM NOT IN CONTROL. Hopefully, it will bring me closer to finally getting some sense knocked into me, figuratively, and realizing (once and for all?) that all my worrying really does get me nowhere, and then (maybe?) crawling out of this spiritual pit I have placed myself in.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It was unimaginably harder to leave Pine Ridge than I could have anticipated.

It was unimaginably harder to leave Pine Ridge than I could have anticipated. I had no idea that two extra months would find me so attached to the family I made there. There is no way I could possibly communicate in words the love, generosity, joy, community, and faith they showed me. I guess all I can say is that who I am is forever different. My time with them has taught me things that I will always carry with me. No matter where life takes me, I pray that I will always remember that I have family in Pine Ridge.

So now I am here. Home, I guess you could call it. It has been challenging, as always, to adjust to living a "normal" life, to doing what people expect of me. I am unbearably happy to be with Andy again and it has been incredibly refreshing to spend time with my family, but after all this time of getting to put my own desires aside it is kind of unsettling to make all sorts of decisions based on what I want. I've discovered this is not a good feeling to have when it is time to plan a wedding. People generally want you to have a lot of opinions, so I am trying to make the transition to this temporarily comfortable life as best as I can, all the while knowing it is not for me, all the while desperately holding on to who I really am.
There is truly so much excitement to come in this life I am sharing with Andy. I am so thankful for him because I know we will figure out the right way to do things together. I know he will never ask me to be who the world wants me to be and I know he will bring me closer to God's desires for me. It isn't easy to make the transition to married life without all the extra baggage. Every day there is another thing we must choose to tell ourselves we don't need, even if well-meaning people may want it for us. Every day society shouts to us, "Settle down! Get a better job! Register for another set of dishes! Worry about money!" Sometimes we listen and sometimes we quietly say, "No, thank you..."
This is where God has us for now. Murfreesboro Tennessee. So for the next two months we will smother our families with love, and learn to care for eachother better and take some time to breathe and explore what life together may look like. And when our time here is up, we will joyfully move on to a less comfortable life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Right now, I am happy just to be here.

Right now, I am happy just to be here. I am continually amazed by how well my life is going in Pine Ridge. I never expected to feel as content as I do. I am satisfied just to be a daily part of the lives of the family that has taken me in here. They have taught me more about community, and God, and myself than I could ever wrtite here. I don't know where God will bring Andy and I when we get married, but I sure spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. Part of me hopes God will bring us back here. In the midst of this isolated community that may seem to be the last place a newlywed couple would want to settle down, I see so much potential to be a part of something great and humbling here. I think God chuckles at the fact that I, once again, think that I can plan my own life. Lately, though, I have been thinking that maybe it matters less where Andy and I are than we think. Maybe what really matters is how we live. That will me a much more difficult, daily decision to make in the long run.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here I am starting a blog.

Here I am starting a blog. I think it will be a good thing. Right now I am in kind of a transitional phase. I just came back home for a month-long visit, after spending the past year in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. After this, I will be going back to Pine Ridge for the summer. Right now is kind of a bittersweet time. I am really glad to finally spend time with my family and friends and boyfriend, but I know it is only temporary and that another goodbye is just around the corner. I am looking forward to summer time in Pine Ridge, though.  In contrast to the bleak endlessness of the winters there, Pine Ridge summers are beautiful. The whole community is out and about a little more and there are thunderstorms like nothing I have ever seen. Also, I am excited about spending more time with some kids that I just couldn't be more crazy about. Plus, I will be staying right in town this time around and be way less busy than last summer. I hope to find that I am much more able to take in everything that is going on around me and make more time for people. For now, I will try to appreciate the time I have in the next couple of weeks to show the people I love the most how important they are to me, so this may be all the writing i do for a little while.